House members bicker amid whistleblower hearing

A House Judiciary Committee hearing erupted in bickering on Wednesday as lawmakers heard testimony from a pair of Justice Department whistleblowers and two former senior officials over allegations that the Trump administration has politicized the agency.

The fracas began as former Deputy Attorney General Donald Ayer was delivering an opening statement. As Ayer ran over his allotted five minutes, Rep. Louie GohmertLouis (Louie) Buller GohmertOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump order aims to curb US agencies' use of foreign workers after TVA outrage | EPA transition back to the office alarms employees | Hundreds of green groups oppose BLM nominee Interior stresses 'showing up for work' after Grijalva tests positive for coronavirus Trump's junk medicine puts his own supporters at deadly risk MORE (R-Texas) began making a tapping noise to drown him out.

Gohmert's behavior angered the Democrats on the committee and prompted one to call for the sergeant-at-arms to intervene.

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"Mr. Chairman, I would ask that the sergeant-at-arms be called upon to stop the disruption of this meeting," Rep. Hank JohnsonHenry (Hank) C. JohnsonFive takeaways as panel grills tech CEOs Lawmakers, public bid farewell to John Lewis Johnson presses Barr on reducing Roger Stone's recommended sentence MORE (D-Ga.) said. "I can’t hear this witness. This is a very important witness."

"Yeah, well he's way beyond his time," Gohmert shot back. "And if there are no rules about when people can talk, there are no rules about when you can make noise."

Gohmert went on to call the situation “outrageous,” rhetorically asking Chairman Jerry NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerBy questioning Barr, Democrats unmasked their policy of betrayal Chris Wallace: Barr hearing 'an embarrassment' for Democrats: 'Just wanted to excoriate him' Apple posts blowout third quarter MORE (D-N.Y.) if he had “no respect for the rules whatsoever,” saying Ayer was “two minutes beyond concluding and you don’t let us have that kind of time, you gavel us down immediately. You’re being grossly unfair.”

Ayer continued to speak while Gohmert continued to make the tapping noise.

Johnson, noting that rules permitted the chair to allow extra time at his discretion, continued to call for Gohmert’s removal by the sergeant-at-arms.

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Rep. Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsSunday shows preview: White House, Democratic leaders struggle for deal on coronavirus bill Trump and Biden tied in Georgia: poll Democrats blister Barr during tense hearing MORE (R-Ga.), in response, said that House rules did not allow Nadler to “capriciously determine the five-minute rule at the whim of what he wants,” accusing the New York Democrat of “arbitrarily deciding when the five-minute rule will be applied and when it will not be applied.”

Told by Nadler he had “not stated a cognizable point of order,” Collins countered that Nadler had “not stated a recognizable way of running the committee in 18 months.”

— This report was updated at 2:29 p.m.