Graham walks back rebuke of GOP storming of SCIF: 'Good reason to be upset'

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSenate GOP mulls speeding up Trump impeachment trial Democratic group plans mobile billboard targeting Collins on impeachment Paul predicts no Republicans will vote to convict Trump MORE (R-S.C.) on Wednesday walked back an initial rebuke of the GOP congressman who stormed a closed-door hearing earlier in the day to protest the Democrats' impeachment inquiry, first calling the move “nuts” before saying he changed his mind after learning that it had been a “peaceful protest.”

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“CORRECTION: I was initially told House GOP took the SCIF by force – basically like a GOP version of Occupy Wall Street,” Graham tweeted. “Apparently it was a peaceful protest. Big difference. I understand their frustration and they have good reason to be upset.” 

 

Graham had originally voiced criticism of the move by the GOP House members, telling The Associated Press, “That’s not the way to do it. That's nuts.”

Dozens of Republican members of the House, including some members of leadership like House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), barged into the secure hearing room in the Capitol basement, delaying the testimony of Laura Cooper, the deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia.

 

Graham also told the AP he didn't like the process being behind closed doors and said transcripts should be made available from any impeachment inquiry interviews, according to the AP.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffDems plan marathon prep for Senate trial, wary of Trump trying to 'game' the process The Hill's Morning Report — President Trump on trial GOP threatens to weaponize impeachment witnesses amid standoff MORE (D-Calif.) reportedly responded to the Republicans entering the sensitive compartment information facility (SCIF) by exiting the room with the witness. 

Some GOP lawmakers also brought cell phones into the SCIF, which is against the rules, and refused to leave.

Republicans have called out the Democrats for only allowing members of the House Intelligence, Oversight and Reform and Foreign Affairs committees to be present during testimonies involved in their impeachment inquiry and have requested the transcripts from these hearings be accessible for all members.

Graham has been a staunch defender of the president as the impeachment inquiry unfolds, agreeing with Trump on Tuesday that it was appropriate to call the process a “lynching.” 

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiRepublicans will pay on Election Day for politicizing Trump's impeachment Trump chooses high-profile but controversial legal team Trump: Impeachment timing intended to hurt Sanders MORE (D-Calif.) launched the impeachment inquiry in response to a whistleblower report that said President TrumpDonald John TrumpNational Archives says it altered Trump signs, other messages in Women's March photo Dems plan marathon prep for Senate trial, wary of Trump trying to 'game' the process Democratic lawmaker dismisses GOP lawsuit threat: 'Take your letter and shove it' MORE pressed the Ukrainian president to investigate former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenSanders to headline Iowa event amid impeachment trial Hillicon Valley: Biden calls for revoking tech legal shield | DHS chief 'fully expects' Russia to try to interfere in 2020 | Smaller companies testify against Big Tech 'monopoly power' Hill.TV's Krystal Ball on Sanders-Warren feud: 'Don't play to the pundits, play to voters' MORE and his family’s dealings with the country.

This report was updated with Graham's additional comments at 4:59 p.m.