RNC funded effort to jam House Democrats' office phone lines amid impeachment fight: report

The Republican National Committee (RNC) funded an effort to tie up House Democrats’ office phone lines as the impeachment fight with the Trump administration intensifies, The New York Times reported Monday.

The RNC paid for about 11,000 calls to almost three dozen House Democrats to influence public opinion on the impeachment inquiry and clog the representatives’ phone lines, affecting access to the lawmakers, two people briefed on the effort told the Times

RNC officials reportedly discussed the plan at an event with more than a dozen GOP aides, advisers and officials, called the “Off the Record” dinner, the sources told the Times. The officials signaled the calls were automated and the goal was to jam the Democrats’ phone lines.

Republican committee officials told the Times the calls were not prerecorded “robocalls” and the organization utilized a vendor to ask voters their opinions on the inquiry. If voters were against the inquiry, the call allowed them to be forwarded to their House representative’s office.

“Our supporters are incredibly fired up to help us fight this impeachment charade,” Mike Reed, an RNC spokesman, told the Times. “Our ‘stop the madness’ campaign has helped hundreds of thousands of voters get the information they need to reach out to their Democrat representatives and tell them to drop the phony impeachment inquiry and get back to work for the American people.”

Blair Ellis, the national press secretary for the RNC, told The Hill the committee has spent $2.3 million on anti-impeachment efforts "to keep pressure on vulnerable House Democrats for their impeachment charades."

"This has been a comprehensive response effort on the part of the RNC since late September, and we’ve maintained steady pressure and momentum on vulnerable Democrats," Ellis said in an email.

The funded calls align with Republican efforts in recent weeks to shape public opinion on the House’s impeachment inquiry and to garner support in defense of President TrumpDonald John TrumpMulvaney: 'We've overreacted a little bit' to coronavirus Former CBS News president: Most major cable news outlets 'unrelentingly liberal' in 'fear and loathing' of Trump An old man like me should be made more vulnerable to death by COVID-19 MORE

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiBottom line This week: Surveillance fight sets early test for House's proxy voting Women suffering steeper job losses in COVID-19 economy MORE (D-Calif.) announced the formal impeachment inquiry after reports circulated that Trump asked the Ukrainian president to investigate former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Americans debate life under COVID-19 risks Biden set to make risky economic argument against Trump Hillicon Valley: Tech companies lead way on WFH forever | States and counties plead for cybersecurity assistance | Trump weighing anti-conservative bias panel MORE and his son in July, days after withholding hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid.

The initial hearings for the inquiry were held behind closed doors for the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, and Oversight and Reform committees. The House approved the rules for the inquiry last Thursday with an eye toward moving to more public proceedings.

—Updated at 8:12 p.m.