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

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGOP senators request interview with former DNC contractor to probe possible Ukraine ties GOP senator blocks Armenian genocide resolution Hannity slams Stern for Clinton interview: 'Not the guy I grew up listening to' 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 SchiffPence's office questions Schiff's request to declassify more material from official's testimony: report Sunday talk shows: Lawmakers gear up ahead of Monday's House Judiciary hearing Trump denies report that he still uses personal cell phone for calls 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 PelosiPence: It's not a "foregone conclusion" that lawmakers impeach Trump Democrats open door to repealing ObamaCare tax in spending talks Sunday talk shows: Lawmakers gear up ahead of Monday's House Judiciary hearing MORE (D-Calif.) launched the impeachment inquiry in response to a whistleblower report that said President TrumpDonald John TrumpPence: It's not a "foregone conclusion" that lawmakers impeach Trump FBI identifies Pensacola shooter as Saudi Royal Saudi Air Force second lieutenant Trump calls Warren 'Pocahontas,' knocks wealth tax MORE pressed the Ukrainian president to investigate former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenPence: It's not a "foregone conclusion" that lawmakers impeach Trump Warren, Buttigieg fight echoes 2004 campaign, serves as warning for 2020 race Trump: Giuliani to deliver report on Ukraine trip to Congress, Barr MORE and his family’s dealings with the country.

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