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

A top ally of President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump on Kanye West's presidential run: 'He is always going to be for us' Marie Yovanovitch on Vindman retirement: He 'deserved better than this. Our country deserved better than this' Trump says Biden has been 'brainwashed': 'He's been taken over by the radical left' 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) GaetzNadler: Barr dealings with Berman came 'awfully close to bribery' Some in Congress want to keep sending our troops to Afghanistan Gianforte halts in-person campaigning after wife, running mate attend event with Guilfoyle 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 SchiffSupreme Court rulings reignite Trump oversight wars in Congress Schiff to Vindman: 'Right does not matter to Trump. But it matters to you' Democrats hit Trump for handling of Russian bounty allegations after White House briefing 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 PelosiSupreme Court rulings reignite Trump oversight wars in Congress Pelosi on Baltimore's Columbus statue: 'If the community doesn't want the statue, the statue shouldn't be there' Pelosi says House won't cave to Senate on worker COVID-19 protections 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 BidenTrump says Biden has been 'brainwashed': 'He's been taken over by the radical left' Trump says he'll wear mask during upcoming trip to Walter Reed Latino group 'Mi Familia Vota' launches M voter turnout campaign targeting swing states 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 GiulianiNadler: Barr dealings with Berman came 'awfully close to bribery' READ: Ousted Manhattan US Attorney Berman testifies Barr 'repeatedly urged' him to resign Ousted Manhattan US Attorney Berman to testify before House next 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.