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

A top ally of President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden holds massive cash advantage over Trump ahead of Election Day Tax records show Trump maintains a Chinese bank account: NYT Trump plays video of Biden, Harris talking about fracking at Pennsylvania rally 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) GaetzCongressional antitrust report rips tech firms for stifling competition Loeffler tweets edited video showing Trump taking down coronavirus in wrestling match Why is Florida screaming about the pay-to-vote system it created? 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 SchiffGreenwald slams Schiff over Biden emails on Fox Hillicon Valley: DOJ accuses Russian hackers of targeting 2018 Olympics, French elections | Federal commission issues recommendations for securing critical tech against Chinese threats | House Democrats slam FCC over 'blatant attempt to help' Trump Federal commission issues recommendations for securing critical tech against Chinese threats 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 PelosiOn The Money: McConnell says he would give Trump-backed coronavirus deal a Senate vote | Pelosi, Mnuchin see progress, but no breakthrough | Trump, House lawyers return to court in fight over financial records Progress, but no breakthrough, on coronavirus relief McConnell says he would give Trump-backed coronavirus deal a vote in Senate 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 BidenBiden holds massive cash advantage over Trump ahead of Election Day Tax records show Trump maintains a Chinese bank account: NYT Trump plays video of Biden, Harris talking about fracking at Pennsylvania rally 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 GiulianiTrump remarks put pressure on Barr Trump demands Barr investigate Hunter Biden 50 former intelligence officials warn NY Post story sounds like Russian disinformation 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.