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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 TrumpObama slams Trump in Miami: 'Florida Man wouldn't even do this stuff' Trump makes his case in North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin Pence's chief of staff tests positive for COVID-19 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 ScaliseMcCarthy faces pushback from anxious Republicans over interview comments Jordan vows to back McCarthy as leader even if House loses more GOP seats Cedric Richmond's next move: 'Sky's the limit' if Biden wins 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 OmarProgressive lawmakers call for United Nations probe into DHS 'human rights abuses' Ocasio-Cortez hits Trump for 'disrespect' over calling her AOC during debates Trump says he doesn't actually want Whitmer, Biden and Obama to be locked up despite chants 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