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 TrumpDavis: Supreme Court decision is bad news for Trump, good news for Vance Meadows trying to root out suspected White House leakers by feeding them info: Axios Pressley hits DeVos over reopening schools: 'I wouldn't trust you to care for a house plant let alone my child' MORE's dealings with Ukraine.

"They crashed the party," said Rep. Harley RoudaHarley Edwin RoudaGloves come off as Democrats fight for House seat in California Gun control group rolls out House endorsements Human Rights Campaign rolls out congressional endorsements on Equality Act anniversary 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 ScaliseCheney clashes with Trump The Hill's Morning Report - Republicans shift, urge people to wear masks GOP-Trump fractures on masks open up 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 - Spotlight shifts to reopening schools Schiff: 'Anyone who cares about the rule of law in this country is nauseated' by Stone sentence commutation Many Democrats want John Bolton's testimony, but Pelosi stays mum 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 ByrneHouse panel votes against curtailing Insurrection Act powers after heated debate Overnight Defense: Pentagon chief says he opposes invoking Insurrection Act for protests | White House dodges on Trump's confidence in Esper | 'Angry and appalled' Mattis scorches Trump Republicans stand by Esper after public break with Trump MORE (Ala.), 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 (Fla.), Louie GohmertLouis (Louie) Buller GohmertGOP-Trump fractures on masks open up Democrats start cracking down on masks for lawmakers Justice Department officials say decisions are politicized MORE (Texas) Steve KingSteven (Steve) Arnold KingColorado GOP Rep. Scott Tipton defeated in primary upset Bottom line House GOP leaders condemn candidate who said black people should be 'proud' of Confederate statues 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. MarshallBollier raises .7 million in second quarter in Kansas Senate race Club for Growth unleashes financial juggernaut for 2020 races Deadline for Kansas Senate race passes without Pompeo filing 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 BidenDavis: Supreme Court decision is bad news for Trump, good news for Vance Teachers face off against Trump on school reopenings Biden wins Puerto Rico primary 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 administration moves to formally withdraw US from WHO Swalwell: Trump 'makes us look like geniuses every day for impeaching him' Voters must strongly reject the president's abuses by voting him out this November MORE (D-Calif.) told reporters.

Rep. Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsMeadows trying to root out suspected White House leakers by feeding them info: Axios Trump wears mask during visit to Walter Reed Barr recommended Trump not give Stone clemency: report 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 McCarthyCongress under pressure to provide billions for school openings Supreme Court rulings reignite Trump oversight wars in Congress The Hill's Campaign Report: Florida's coronavirus surge raises questions about GOP convention 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 WalkerPence confidant helps 24-year-old beat Trump-backed candidate Rubio to introduce bill allowing NCAA athletes to make money from name, likeness Democrats press OSHA official on issuing an Emergency Temporary Standard MORE (N.C.), Jody HiceJody Brownlow HiceHouse Republicans urge White House to support TSA giving travelers temperature checks Comer tapped to serve as top Republican on House Oversight This week: Democrats set to move health care, infrastructure proposals with eye on November MORE (Ga.), Mo BrooksMorris (Mo) Jackson BrooksOvernight Defense: Army launches command probe after slaying at Fort Hood | 'MAGA' listed as 'covert white supremacy' in military handout Army probing how 'MAGA' was listed as 'covert white supremacy' in handout Overnight Defense: Senate confirms US military's first African American service chief | Navy to ban display of Confederate flags | GOP lawmakers urge Trump not to cut troops in Germany MORE (Ala.) Buddy CarterEarl (Buddy) Leroy CarterOvernight Health Care: Trump says White House will pressure governors to open schools | Administration formally moves to withdraw US from WHO | Fauci warns against 'false complacency' on COVID-19 House fires back at Trump by passing ObamaCare expansion Loeffler works to gain traction with conservatives amid Collins primary bid MORE (Ga.), Doug LaMalfaDouglas (Doug) LaMalfaGOP lawmakers plan measure to force Americans to divest from firms linked to Chinese military: report House lawmakers advocate to preserve medical funding for underserved, rural areas Overnight Energy: Panel gives chairman power to subpoena Interior | House passes bill to protect wilderness | House Republicans propose carbon capture bill | Ocasio-Cortez introduces bill to ban fracking MORE (Calif.), Alex MooneyAlexander (Alex) Xavier MooneyHouse GOP lawmakers urge Senate to confirm Vought Overnight Defense: House passes bills to rein in Trump on Iran | Pentagon seeks Iraq's permission to deploy missile defenses | Roberts refuses to read Paul question on whistleblower during impeachment trial Here are the lawmakers who defected on Iran legislation MORE (W.Va.), Gary PalmerGary James PalmerComer tapped to serve as top Republican on House Oversight Top GOP post on Oversight draws stiff competition Trump takes pulse of GOP on Alabama Senate race MORE (Ala.) and Bill JohnsonWilliam (Bill) Leslie JohnsonPG&E pleads guilty to 84 felony counts of involuntary manslaughter in 2018 Camp Fire The Hill's Campaign Report: Republicans go on the hunt for new convention site Police unions coalition director: Biden 'off the deep end' in calls for reform MORE (Ohio). 
 
 
Updated at 4:34 p.m.