House Republican defends protest of closed-door hearing

One of the House Republicans who interrupted a closed-door hearing on Wednesday to protest the Democrats' handling of the impeachment inquiry into President TrumpDonald John TrumpSessions accepts 'Fox News Sunday' invitation to debate, Tuberville declines Priest among those police cleared from St. John's Church patio for Trump visit Trump criticizes CNN on split-screen audio of Rose Garden address, protesters clashing with police MORE defended the move on Thursday.

“I don’t think storming is the proper word,” said Rep. Fred Keller (R-Pa.), a member of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, told Hill.TV in response to coverage of the protest. “Everything that we did was very orderly.”

“This process is certainly not fair to anybody — most of all the American people,” he added.

More than a dozen GOP lawmakers, including House Minority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseTop GOP lawmakers invite Blue Dogs to meet with China Task Force Top GOP lawmakers invite Blue Dogs to meet with China Task Force over coronavirus probe House pays tribute to late Congressman Sam Johnson on the floor MORE (R-La.), on Wednesday barged into the sensitive compartmented information facility, delaying the deposition of a top Defense Department official who was set to give a private testimony about Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. Proceedings were delayed five hours as a result of the disruption.

Democrats have expressed concerns that Republican congressmen potentially put national security at risk by going into the hearing room with cell phones, a violation of security procedures. One member — Rep. Alex MooneyAlexander (Alex) Xavier MooneyHouse GOP lawmakers urge Senate to confirm Vought Overnight Defense: House passes bills to rein in Trump on Iran | Pentagon seeks Iraq's permission to deploy missile defenses | Roberts refuses to read Paul question on whistleblower during impeachment trial Here are the lawmakers who defected on Iran legislation MORE (R-W.Va.) — even made a phone call in the room and posted the audio on Twitter.

In response to criticism of this move, Keller refocused the narrative on GOP criticism of the Democrat-led impeachment inquiry.

“If we want to talk about censure and things that are happening, lets talk about due process and make sure that when we’re talking about undoing the vote of the American people,” he told Hill.TV.

While some Trump allies praised the stunt, the conservative House Republicans faced some heat from their Democratic counterparts, including Rep. Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarAmash readying legislation allowing victims to sue officers Democrats call for Congress to take action following death of George Floyd Black Caucus member unveils bill to create commission addressing legacy of slavery MORE (D-Minn.).

"This is what happens when people elect members more interested in media hits than the protection of our national security," Omar tweeted.

— Tess Bonn