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

A top ally of President TrumpDonald John TrumpMilitary personnel to handle coronavirus patients at facilities in NYC, New Orleans and Dallas Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort has total of 20 patients: report Fauci says that all states should have stay-at-home orders 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) GaetzHarris knocks Gaetz for taking issue with money for Howard in relief package Critics hit Florida governor over lack of 'sweeping' coronavirus response Gaetz accuses Burr of 'screwing all Americans' with stock sale 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 SchiffPelosi forms House committee to oversee coronavirus response 5 reasons Democrats fear Trump's coronavirus briefings Democrats introduce bill to set up commission to review coronavirus response 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 PelosiNJ governor calls for assessment of coronavirus response after crisis abates Overnight Health Care: Global coronavirus cases top 1M | Cities across country in danger of becoming new hotspots | Trump to recommend certain Americans wear masks | Record 6.6M file jobless claims Hillicon Valley: Zoom draws new scrutiny amid virus fallout | Dems step up push for mail-in voting | Google to lift ban on political ads referencing coronavirus 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 BidenOvernight Health Care: Global coronavirus cases top 1M | Cities across country in danger of becoming new hotspots | Trump to recommend certain Americans wear masks | Record 6.6M file jobless claims The Memo: Scale of economic crisis sends shudders through nation The Hill's Campaign Report: Coronavirus forces Democrats to postpone convention 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 GiulianiGoogle to spend .5 million in fight against coronavirus misinformation Hillicon Valley: FCC chief proposes 0M telehealth program | Twitter takes down posts promoting anti-malaria drugs for coronavirus| Whole Foods workers plan Tuesday strike 12 things to know today about coronavirus 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.