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

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamTrump selects South Carolina lawyer for impeachment trial Democrats formally elect Harrison as new DNC chair McConnell proposes postponing impeachment trial until February 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 SchiffBiden to keep Wray as FBI director Biden urged to reverse Pompeo-Trump move on Houthis Angus King warns of 'grave danger' of Trump revealing classified information 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 PelosiSunday shows preview: All eyes on Biden administration to tackle coronavirus Calls grow for 9/11-style panel to probe Capitol attack Do Democrats really want unity? MORE (D-Calif.) launched the impeachment inquiry in response to a whistleblower report that said President TrumpDonald TrumpNYT: Rep. Perry played role in alleged Trump plan to oust acting AG Arizona GOP censures top state Republicans McCain, Flake and Ducey Biden and UK prime minister discuss NATO, multilateralism during call MORE pressed the Ukrainian president to investigate former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenDC residents jumped at opportunity to pay for meals for National Guardsmen Joe Biden might bring 'unity' – to the Middle East Biden shouldn't let defeating cancer take a backseat to COVID MORE and his family’s dealings with the country.

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