Republicans storm closed-door hearing to protest impeachment inquiry

House Republicans stormed a closed-door hearing Wednesday to protest Democrats' impeachment inquiry process, breaking up the deposition of a top Defense Department official who was testifying about President TrumpDonald John TrumpKaine: Obama called Trump a 'fascist' during 2016 campaign Kaine: GOP senators should 'at least' treat Trump trial with seriousness of traffic court Louise Linton, wife of Mnuchin, deletes Instagram post in support of Greta Thunberg MORE's dealings with Ukraine.

"They crashed the party," said Rep. Harley RoudaHarley Edwin RoudaSan Francisco mayor endorses Bloomberg Rep. Bobby Rush endorses Bloomberg's White House bid Sanders, Warren battle for progressive endorsements MORE (D-Calif.), a member of the Oversight and Reform Committee, one of three House panels leading the impeachment probe.

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Dozens of Republicans, including some members of leadership like House Minority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions Cheney's decision not to run for Senate sparks Speaker chatter Trump welcomes LSU to the White House: 'Go Tigers' MORE (R-La.), barged into the secure hearing room in the Capitol basement where Laura Cooper, the deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, was set to provide private testimony. The deposition got underway after a five-hour delay.

Several lawmakers said that, in response to the Republican protest on Wednesday morning, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffSunday shows preview: Lawmakers prepare for week two of impeachment trial Trump defense team signals focus on Schiff Schiff pushes back: Defense team knows Trump is guilty MORE (D-Calif.) left the room with Cooper and postponed her interview.

“The fact that Adam Schiff won't even let the press in — you can't even go in and see what's going on in that room," Scalise told reporters outside the hearing room. "Voting members of Congress are being denied access from being able to see what's happening behind these closed doors, where they're trying to impeach the president of the United States with a one-sided set of rules, they call the witnesses.”

GOP Reps. Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Bradley ByrneBradley Roberts ByrneGOP lawmaker offers resolution to censure Pelosi for holding articles of impeachment GOP rep releases campaign ad ripping Kaepernick, 'The Squad' GOP rep rails against Democrats for rejecting Republican impeachment amendment MORE (Ala.), Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzGaetz in Twitter battle with Florida House Republican Apple under pressure to unlock Pensacola shooter's phones Conservatives slam Warren's call to put transgender women in women's prisons MORE (Fla.), Louie GohmertLouis (Louie) Buller GohmertRepublicans eye top spot on Natural Resources panel Sheila Jackson Lee tops colleagues in House floor speaking days over past decade Trump shocks, earns GOP rebukes with Dingell remarks MORE (Texas) Steve KingSteven (Steve) Arnold KingNebraska Democratic Party Chair: Rural vote should be 'bedrock' of party With surge in anti-Semitism, political leaders need to be aggressive and reflective in response Steve King challenger: 2020 Democrats have 'huge' opportunity to win over rural America MORE (Iowa) and members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus also entered the room.

“When we walked in, they looked dumbfounded and the room just came to a stop," Byrne told The Hill. "And we lined up along the wall or sat in chairs expecting them to do something. And after several minutes, Adam Schiff got up and just walked out. And while he was walking out I said, 'Don't go.’” 

Republicans have repeatedly blasted Democrats for choosing to only allow members of the House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees to attend the hearings and depositions, arguing the information and transcripts should be made available to all members given the gravity of the consequences of impeachment.

They have also accused Democrats of selectively leaking information from those hearings to the press.

Rep. Roger MarshallRoger W. MarshallPompeo tells McConnell he's not running for Senate Meat industry is trying to stifle plant-based food innovation Improving maternal health with data and care coordination MORE (R-Kan.) said Schiff said “nothing” after Republicans forced their way into the hearing room.

“He doesn’t have the guts to come talk to us,” Marshall said. “He left, he just got up and left. He doesn't have the guts to tell us why we can’t come in the room, why he doesn't want this to be transparent. It’s the biggest facade, biggest farce of my life.”

But Rep. Mike Waltz (R-Fla.) said Schiff postponed the hearing as he left the room. Waltz also said Schiff was “threatening” GOP members with ethics violations.
 
Some of the Republicans who barged into the hearing room were in possession of cellphones, a violation of the rules governing the so-called sensitive compartmented information facility, known as the SCIF, where the depositions have been taking place.
 
 
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Wasserman Schultz, who said Cooper was not in the room when the Republicans entered, added that impeachment probe has "far too much fact for their comfort level, so they have to try to stop it from moving forward."
 
The move by House Republicans comes a day after another witness, top diplomat William Taylor, testified that Trump withheld military aid to Ukraine to pressure the country to conduct a pair of investigations — one into 2016 election hacking, the other into the family of former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenDes Moines Register endorses Elizabeth Warren as Democratic presidential nominee Sanders faces lingering questions about appeal to women voters George Conway: Witness missing from impeachment trial is Trump MORE — that might have helped Trump's reelection campaign next year.

Scalise on Tuesday led more than 50 GOP members in a floor speech rally railing against impeachment efforts. The previous day, Trump called on Republicans to be more vocal in their defense of him as Democrats push forward with their impeachment efforts.

Some Democrats were outraged by GOP lawmakers bringing cellphones and cameras into a secure room.

"In short, they have compromised the security of the room. And they not only brought in their unauthorized devices, they may have brought in the Russian and Chinese with electronics in a secure space," Rep. Eric SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellMartha McSally fundraises off 'liberal hack' remark to CNN reporter Enes Kanter sees political stardom — after NBA and WWE Swalwell pens op-ed comparing Trump impeachment to XYZ Affair MORE (D-Calif.) told reporters.

Rep. Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsSunday shows preview: Lawmakers prepare for week two of impeachment trial Meadows says Trump told him he didn't threaten senators on impeachment vote Impeachment trial to enter new phase with Trump defense MORE (R-N.C.), a member of the Oversight Committee and a key Trump supporter, suggested the concerns over the cellphones were overblown.

“There's no cameras or phones in the SCIF, so I think that those phones actually went in, just because everybody went in,” Meadows told reporters. “I can tell you I actually collected phones and brought them back out. You certainly want a secure environment but at the same time I think everybody wants to hear exactly what's going on.”


“We want to hear from this witness but so do the other members of Congress," he said. "This may be within House rules, that’s not the question. The question is, is it a good idea to try and impeach the president in secret hearings?”
 
Asked whether Republicans will attempt to enter other closed-door hearings, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions Cheney's decision not to run for Senate sparks Speaker chatter Mark Mellman: A failure of GOP leadership MORE (R-Calif.) told reporters that the GOP “will continue to fight to find information because we have a responsibility to our constituents and we will not be denied that.”
 
Other Republicans who took part in the action included Reps. Mark WalkerBradley (Mark) Mark WalkerRepublicans, Democrats offer support after John Lewis cancer diagnosis House GOP vows to use impeachment to cut into Democratic majority A solemn impeachment day on Capitol Hill MORE (N.C.), Jody HiceJody Brownlow HiceGOP Congressman: Impeachment has sucked all the oxygen out of the room GOP rep: Impeachment 'sham' is 'taking all the oxygen' out of Washington The Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions MORE (Ga.), Mo BrooksMorris (Mo) Jackson BrooksRepublican group asks 'what is Trump hiding' in Times Square billboard Conservative group hits White House with billboard ads: 'What is Trump hiding?' Trump takes pulse of GOP on Alabama Senate race MORE (Ala.) Buddy CarterEarl (Buddy) Leroy CarterRepublicans came to the table on climate this year Republicans storm closed-door hearing to protest impeachment inquiry Mass shootings have hit 158 House districts so far this year MORE (Ga.), Doug LaMalfaDouglas (Doug) LaMalfaKoch campaign touts bipartisan group behind ag labor immigration bill On The Money: Lawmakers strike spending deal | US, China reach limited trade deal ahead of tariff deadline | Lighthizer fails to quell GOP angst over new NAFTA House passes bill that would give legal status to thousands of undocumented farmworkers MORE (Calif.), Alex MooneyAlexander (Alex) Xavier Mooney2019 in Photos: 35 pictures in politics Ocasio-Cortez calls out GOP lawmakers asking to be arrested, citing privilege Ocasio-Cortez, Mooney spar on Twitter over closed-door impeachment hearings MORE (W.Va.), Gary PalmerGary James PalmerTrump takes pulse of GOP on Alabama Senate race GOP protest overshadows impeachment hearing Republicans storm closed-door hearing to protest impeachment inquiry MORE (Ala.) and Bill JohnsonWilliam (Bill) Leslie JohnsonBy opposing a sham impeachment, I upheld my oath of office A solemn impeachment day on Capitol Hill GOP lawmaker holds moment of silence on House floor for people who voted for Trump MORE (Ohio). 
 
 
Updated at 4:34 p.m.