Demanding transparency in the impeachment probe of US President Donald Trump, GOP lawmakers stormed the secure room inside the Capitol where Democrats were interrogating a Pentagon official, derailing the proceedings.
Led by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Florida), two dozen Republican members of Congress made their way into the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) on Wednesday, as House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-California) was about to open a hearing where Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary Laura Cooper was due to testify.
“Adam Schiff’s impeachment inquiry has been marked by secret interviews, selective leaks, weird theatrical performances of transcripts that never happened, and lies about contact with a whistleblower,” Gaetz declared in an impromptu press conference outside the SCIF.
If behind those doors they intend to overturn the results of an American presidential election, we want to know what’s going on.
WATCH: here's the video of when 2 dozen GOP members, led by @mattgaetz entered the secure hearing room (SCIF) to interrupt witness testimony in the #ImpeachmentInquiry as they demand access, despite not being committee members. They're complaining it's a "Soviet-style process". pic.twitter.com/8KddYz3r9D
— Scott Thuman (@ScottThuman) October 23, 2019
Cooper was supposed to testify about the lethal military aid for Ukraine, authorized by Congress, which Trump withheld pending the transfer of power in Kiev to new President Volodymyr Zelensky. Democrats claim the aid was used as leverage to pressure Ukraine to investigate former VP – and now one of their presidential candidates – Joe Biden, and therefore amounts to foreign meddling in the 2020 election.
Based on that, they launched an impeachment inquiry earlier this month, though without a vote in the full House or the previously established precedent of allowing the minority subpoena powers and access to hearings. Republicans have denounced this as a violation of due process.
I'm a Green Beret and a proud veteran. This impeachment process does not make me proud.
As a sitting member of Congress, I still can't read the transcripts on impeaching our President.
I've fought in third-world countries that have fairer processes than what we're seeing today. pic.twitter.com/6QSf8V1qA4
— Rep. Michael Waltz (@RepMichaelWaltz) October 23, 2019
Adam Schiff just SHUT DOWN his secret underground impeachment hearing after I led a group of Republicans into the room. Now he's threatening me with an Ethics complaint! I'm on the Armed Services Cmte but being blocked from the Dept. Asst. SecDef's testimony. This is a SHAM! pic.twitter.com/6qUMerxENC
— Rep. Bradley Byrne (@RepByrne) October 23, 2019
Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-California), who sits on the Intelligence Committee, said that his Republican colleagues “put the country at risk” by bringing cell phones into the SCIF and “disrespected” the Capitol Police.
“The House GOP are now physically obstructing the impeachment inquiry,” he tweeted. “Their stunt today will not deter us from holding Donald Trump accountable. And it won’t stop the witnesses they’re seeking to intimidate. We will move on and justice will roll down like waters.”
The @housegop are now physically obstructing the impeachment inquiry. Their stunt today will not deter us from holding @realDonaldTrump accountable. And it won’t stop the witnesses they’re seeking to intimidate. We will move on and justice will roll down like waters.
— Rep. Eric Swalwell (@RepSwalwell) October 23, 2019
News of the SCIF breach has infuriated the anti-Trump #Resistance, with journalists and pundits demanding the arrests of Republican members of Congress, charging them with criminal trespass, and taking away their security clearances.
It wasn’t long before #ArrestThemAll, #LockThemAllUp, and #ArrestGaetz became leading trends on social media.
Wait!!? Republicans tried to storm a Secure Classified Information Facility (SCIF) where TOP SECRET +++ information is stored & shared? ITS A TOP SECRET FACILITY RUN BY THE CIA/DOD & GUARDED BY TS/SCI CLEARED ARMED POLICE. This isn’t a joke anymore. Charge them with trespass. https://t.co/1rlN8CxTpT
— Malcolm Nance (@MalcolmNance) October 23, 2019
It is indeed a federal crime for a group of people to enter any room in the Capitol complex with the purpose of disrupting a congressional committee’s business – but members of Congress are apparently exempt from this law.
40 USC §§5109(b) & 5104(e)(2)(C) make it a federal crime for a group of people to enter a room being used by a congressional committee in any of the Capitol Buildings in order to disrupt the committee's business.
… but not if you're a member of Congress.
— A Crime a Day (@CrimeADay) October 23, 2019
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