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 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's dealings with Ukraine.

"They crashed the party," said Rep. Harley RoudaHarley Edwin RoudaClub for Growth extends advertising against House Dems over impeachment Overnight Energy: Jerry Brown testifies on emissions fight | Brown presses climate action: 'Impeachment is important, but the climate is even more important' | Dems look to protect Grand Canyon from drilling Jerry Brown: 'Impeachment is important, but the climate is even more important' MORE (D-Calif.), a member of the Oversight and Reform Committee, one of three House panels leading the impeachment probe.

ADVERTISEMENT

Dozens of Republicans, including some members of leadership like House Minority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseFox's Neil Cavuto rips into Trump over attacks on Chris Wallace's impeachment coverage This week: Round 2 of House impeachment inquiry hearings Trump rips 'nasty' and 'obnoxious' Chris Wallace after he presses Scalise about impeachment 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 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.) 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 ByrneSessions vows to 'work for' Trump endorsement Trump attends football game with Jeff Sessions' Alabama Senate race opponent Bradley Byrne The Hill's Campaign Report: Bloomberg looks to upend Democratic race MORE (Ala.), 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 (Fla.), Louie GohmertLouis (Louie) Buller GohmertLive coverage: House holds first public impeachment hearing GOP lawmaker invokes possibility of 'civil war' after House votes on Trump impeachment procedures Why the GOP march of mad hatters poses a threat to our Democracy MORE (Texas) Steve KingSteven (Steve) Arnold KingWhy the GOP march of mad hatters poses a threat to our Democracy MSNBC's Donny Deutsch: 'Pathetic' Republicans who stormed closed hearing are 'boring, nerdy-looking white guys' Overnight Defense: Trump lifts sanctions on Turkey | 'Small number' of troops to remain by Syrian oil fields | Defense official's impeachment testimony delayed five hours after Republicans storm secure room 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. MarshallMeat industry is trying to stifle plant-based food innovation Improving maternal health with data and care coordination Trump tears into impeachment probe, witnesses in early Twitter spree 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.
 
 
ADVERTISEMENT
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 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 — 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 SwalwellTrump attacks Pence aide who called Ukraine call 'inappropriate' Top Pence aide told lawmakers Trump's Ukraine call was 'inappropriate' in closed-door testimony New witness claims firsthand account of Trump's push for Ukraine probes MORE (D-Calif.) told reporters.

Rep. Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsMichelle Obama presents Lin-Manuel Miranda with National Portrait Award Sondland testimony looms over impeachment hearings this week Democrats seize on new evidence in first public impeachment hearing 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 McCarthyHarris introduces bill to prevent California wildfires McCarthy says views on impeachment won't change even if Taylor's testimony is confirmed House Republicans call impeachment hearing 'boring,' dismiss Taylor testimony as hearsay 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 WalkerNorth Carolina poised to pass new congressional maps Intercollegiate athletics just got a two-minute warning North Carolina ruling could cost GOP House seats MORE (N.C.), Jody HiceJody Brownlow HiceGOP lawmaker calls impeachment inquiry a 'disaster' for American people House Republican: Impeachment vote timing 'up in the air' GOP Congressman weighs in on impeachment hearings MORE (Ga.), Mo BrooksMorris (Mo) Jackson BrooksTrump takes pulse of GOP on Alabama Senate race The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Better Medicare Alliance - Dems unveil impeachment measure; Vindman splits GOP Jeff Sessions calling Alabama lawmakers about 2020 Senate bid MORE (Ala.) Buddy CarterEarl (Buddy) Leroy CarterRepublicans storm closed-door hearing to protest impeachment inquiry Mass shootings have hit 158 House districts so far this year Polling director: Young voters swayed by health care, economy, gun control MORE (Ga.), Doug LaMalfaDouglas (Doug) LaMalfaBipartisan group reveals agricultural worker immigration bill Republicans storm closed-door hearing to protest impeachment inquiry GOP moves to block provision banning use of Defense funds for border wall MORE (Calif.), Alex MooneyAlexander (Alex) Xavier MooneyOcasio-Cortez calls out GOP lawmakers asking to be arrested, citing privilege Ocasio-Cortez, Mooney spar on Twitter over closed-door impeachment hearings House Republican defends protest of closed-door hearing 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 JohnsonCalifornia prepares for biggest blackout yet Largest California utility reports broken power line near wildfire origin Rolling blackouts sweep through Northern California, could hit southern part of state MORE (Ohio). 
 
 
Updated at 4:34 p.m.