News and Commentary

GOP Lawmakers Storm Closed-Door Impeachment Session As Schiff Walks Out
About two dozen House Republicans enter a sensitive compartmented information facility (SCIF) where a closed session before the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees takes place at the U.S. Capitol October 23, 2019 in Washington, DC. Rep. Gaetz held the press conference prior to the walk-in to call for “transparency in impeachment inquiry.” (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Alex Wong/Getty Images

A group of House Republicans on Wednesday crashed a closed-door session regarding the impeachment inquiry into President Trump, forcing House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff to suspend the session and essentially flee.

Republicans have complained about the lack of transparency into the inquiry being conducted by Democrats, complaining that they are being shut out of the process.

Before storming the session, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) said in a press conference: “We’re going to try and go in there, and we’re going to try to figure out what’s going on, on behalf of the millions of Americans that we represent that want to see this Congress working for them and not obsess with attacking a president who we believe has not done anything to deserve impeachment.”

Republicans said Schiff (D-CA), who is leading the inquiry, is to blame.

“What is Adam Schiff trying to hide?” asked House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA). “I think that’s the question so many people have, so many of my colleagues have, so many people in the press should have.”

“Voting members of Congress are being denied access from being able to see what’s happening behind these closed doors where they’re trying to impeach the president of the United States with a one-sided set of rules,” Scalise added. “They call the witnesses. They don’t let anybody else call the witnesses.”

“We’re gonna’ go and see if we can get inside,” Gaetz said at the end of a press conference.

Then, about 30 House Republicans headed to the hearing room where Laura Cooper, a Department of Defense official who oversees policy on Ukraine, was scheduled to testify.

That’s when Schiff, along with other Democrats, left the room.

“He doesn’t have the guts to come talk to us,” Rep. Roger Marshall (R-KS) said, according to  The Hill. “He left, he just got up and left. He doesn’t have the guts to tell us why we can’t come in the room, why he doesn’t want this to be transparent. It’s the biggest facade, biggest farce of my life.”

Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL) also posted the scene on Twitter.

“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!” he wrote.

Gaetz, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, was expelled from another hearing earlier this month when former deputy assistant to the president Fiona Hill was questioned. He said he was told “he could not attend because he is not part of the House Intelligence Committee, which is conducting the investigation along with the House Oversight and Foreign Affairs Committees,” Fox New reported.

“Judiciary Chairman [Jerry Nadler] claimed to have begun the impeachment inquiry weeks ago,” Gaetz tweeted at the time. “Now, his own Judiciary members aren’t even allowed to participate in it. And yes — my constituents want me actively involved in stopping the #KangarooCourtCoup run by Shifty Schiff.”

House Democrats complained, saying the action by Republicans was “embarrassing” and “completely inappropriate.”

“I guess when you’re desperate you go back to complaining about the process, and that’s what they’re doing,” said Rep. Val Demings (D-FL), according to CNN.

“I think it’s completely inappropriate. I think when the facts are against you, the law is against you, the President apparently committed a crime, you are left with arguing process, and that’s what they’re arguing,” Rep. Harley Rouda (D-CA) said.

“We’re embarrassing ourselves in front of company,” said Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL), who serves on the House Intelligence Committee.