GOP rep says he was kicked out of Trump aide's deposition

A top ally of President TrumpDonald John TrumpMost Americans break with Trump on Ukraine, but just 45 percent think he should be removed: poll Judge orders Democrats to give notice if they request Trump's NY tax returns Trump's doctor issues letter addressing 'speculation' about visit to Walter Reed MORE said he was asked to leave the deposition of a former Trump aide on Monday, after he tried to attend the closed-door meeting in the Capitol.

Rep. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzBottom Line Gaetz wants woman who threw drink at him to serve time Schiff told Gaetz to 'absent yourself' in fiery exchange: impeachment transcript MORE (R-Fla.), who is not a member of the three House committees handling the impeachment inquiry into Trump, said that he was asked to leave deposition of Fiona Hill, a former presidential aide on European and Russian affairs, by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffHillicon Valley: Commerce extends Huawei waiver | Senate Dems unveil privacy bill priorities | House funding measure extends surveillance program | Trump to tour Apple factory | GOP bill would restrict US data going to China Press: Ukraine's not the only outrage Adam Schiff is just blowing smoke with 'witness intimidation' bluster MORE (D-Calif.).

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The House parliamentarian later ruled Gaetz had to leave, he added. 

"I went into the committee room and Mr. Schiff told me I had to leave," the Florida Republican told reporters in the Capitol after leaving the secure room where Hill was being deposed. "And we waited for a ruling from the parliamentarian. And at that time, I had to depart." 

Gaetz said he left voluntarily.

While the House Judiciary Committee had led the charge in the Democrats' investigation of Russian election interference, three different committees — Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs — have taken the baton since the focus has shifted to questions surrounding Trump's dealings with Ukraine.

Gaetz, a Judiciary Committee member, argued that not being on the panels leading the inquiry should not preclude him from sitting in on Hill's testimony.

"If Adam Schiff and House Democrats were so proud of their work, they would be willing to show it," he said.

"It's even more troubling when we look at the selective leaks from Adam Schiff, where information will be taken out of context and provided to the press,” he continued.

“If Democrats really are trying to build a legitimate case, they would use legitimate tools. They would hold a vote on the House floor to establish procedures,” he added. “But we continue to see this as the sham and the charade that it is."

Trump and House Republicans have urged Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiFeehery: Pivoting to infrastructure could help heal post-impeachment wounds Key GOP senator: 'We need a breakthrough' on spending talks Overnight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Stopgap spending bill includes military pay raise | Schumer presses Pentagon to protect impeachment witnesses | US ends civil-nuclear waiver in Iran MORE (D-Calif.) to stage a floor vote to formally launch their impeachment inquiry. Without that vote, Gaetz said on Monday, "there are no rules" to guide the process.

"In the absence of any rules the House Democrats have adopted, I found it only reasonable to look at prior precedent on impeachment," he said, noting that the Judiciary Committee has taken the lead on the country’s most recent impeachment proceedings. "It's not like I'm on the Agriculture Committee. I'm on a committee that has jurisdiction over impeachment, and I'm not able to participate.”

An official working on the impeachment inquiry told The Hill in an email that only members of the three panels working on the investigation are allowed to participate, according to the House rules and the chamber's deposition regulations. 

The official said that Gaetz tried to attend the deposition even though he is not on these committees, and that his refusal to leave delayed the deposition. The person confirmed that Gaetz left after a ruling from the parliamentarian’s office. 

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In tweets on the matter, Gaetz echoed Trump's rhetoric on the impeachment inquiry, calling it a "coup" and a “hoax.”

“Chairman Schiff and the radical democrats are now active participants in the coup. To exclude Members of Congress from hearings confirms the American people’s suspicions: this is not a legitimate ‘impeachment inquiry’ — it is a charade.” he wrote.

“Chairman Schiff and Speaker Pelosi are equally complicit in hiding and obfuscating the truth,” he added, referring to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). “Blocking Members of Congress from attending "impeachment" hearings is not only unfair, it runs counter to our Democracy.”

“The perpetrators of this impeachment hoax must be held accountable — both by the Congress, and by the American people,” Gaetz continued. 

Democrats launched an impeachment inquiry into Trump after revelations that he pressed Ukraine’s president to look into leading Democratic presidential candidate Joe BidenJoe BidenMost Americans break with Trump on Ukraine, but just 45 percent think he should be removed: poll Democrats release two new transcripts ahead of next public impeachment hearings Press: Ukraine's not the only outrage MORE and his son.

Trump has denied wrongdoing and slammed the inquiry as a “hoax” and “witch hunt.”

Hill was expected to discuss a “shadow foreign policy” pursued by Trump's personal lawyer Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiDemocrats release two new transcripts ahead of next public impeachment hearings GOP senator calls impeachment 'sabotage' effort, raises questions about witness on eve of testimony Impeachment guide: The 9 witnesses testifying this week MORE and U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland in her Monday deposition. 

NBC News reported that she would say that Giuliani and Sondland skirted the National Security Council and White House procedure to speak directly with Trump about Ukraine.