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 TrumpSenate gears up for battle over witnesses in impeachment trial Vulnerable Democrats tout legislative wins, not impeachment Trump appears to set personal record for tweets in a day 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 ScaliseFox's Chris Wallace calls out Trump for the 'most sustained assault on freedom of the press' in US history McCarthy: I don't think there's a need to whip the impeachment vote GOP calls for minority hearing on impeachment, threatens procedural measures 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 MooneyOcasio-Cortez calls out GOP lawmakers asking to be arrested, citing privilege Ocasio-Cortez, Mooney spar on Twitter over closed-door impeachment hearings House Republican defends protest of closed-door hearing 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 OmarIlhan Omar responds to 'Conservative Squad': 'Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery' Biden narrowly ahead in Iowa as Sanders surges, Warren drops: poll Sanders, Omar to hit campaign trail in New Hampshire 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