Following a Wednesday morning press conference, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and about a dozen other GOP lawmakers went into the House Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF), and according to one lawmaker, House Democrats ended the hearing and left.
The representatives went into a secure hearing to attempt to view testimony into the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump.
Rep. Fred Keller (R-Penn.), in a video, said Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) left the room along with other House Democrats.
“They must not want all of Congress to know what’s going on in that room,” Keller said.
I joined @RepMattGaetz and dozens of other @HouseGOP colleagues for a press conference to demand @RepAdamSchiff open the “impeachment inquiry” hearings and be transparent. We then went to the SCIF and the @HouseDemocrats ended the hearing and left the room. My reaction ⬇️⬇️⬇️ pic.twitter.com/1WpF6CzF24
— Congressman Fred Keller (@RepFredKeller) October 23, 2019
Gaetz also sent out a Twitter message from inside the SCIF.
“I led over 30 of my colleagues into the SCIF where Adam Schiff is holding secret impeachment depositions. Still inside – more details to come,” he wrote.
Rep. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) stated that Schiff said “nothing” when the members sat down. He then left with Laura Cooper, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia, who was under deposition, according to The Hill.
Gaetz and the others argued that lawmakers, not just members of the three House committees overseeing the inquiry, should be able to attend the closed-door hearings.
“He doesn’t have the guts to come talk to us,” Marshall said of Schiff. “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. Michael Waltz (R-Fla.) added that Schiff left the room, adding that he is now threatening the other lawmakers with “ethics” violations, The Hill reported.
Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah), a member of the Intelligence Committee, said that “we want to hear from this witness but so do the other members of Congress.”
“This may be within House rules, that’s not the question,” he said of the secret hearings. “The question is, is it a good idea to try and impeach the president in secret hearings.”
Schiff left the room and said the hearing has been postponed. He added that Schiff is “threatening” GOP members with ethics violations.
On Twitter, several reporters and at least one Democratic congressman claimed that they violated the law.
I’m with @SteveScalise @RepMattGaetz & nearly 50 of my colleagues outside the Intelligence Committee room demanding an open and transparent process. We must #StopTheSchiffShow pic.twitter.com/QwMW3YmBle
— Kevin Hern (@repkevinhern) October 23, 2019
“It’s not a ‘secret chamber,’ it’s the House of Representatives’ SCIF,” Rep. Don Breyer (D-Va. ) wrote on Twitter. “Access is open to members of committees of jurisdiction, not mobs. The phone you sent this on is banned there because it violates security protocols that protect classified information to keep Americans safe.”
“The Republicans stunt in House SCIF is ugly and silly and problematic for lots of reasons. But I think people are overstating the actual security compromise. When police say they are doing a ‘sweep,’ they are making sure there aren’t any phones or recording devices left behind,” CNN’s Susan Hennessey wrote.