A group of House Republicans stormed a closed-door meeting in a secret room at the Capitol, delaying the testimony of a Pentagon official in the House impeachment inquiry, The Washington Post reports.
The group, led by Florida Republican Matt Gaetz, a staunch Trump ally, barged into a secure facility on Capitol Hill where impeachment investigators have been questioning witnesses.
Their stunt caused the testimony to be delayed for five hours due to security concerns.
The lawmakers complained that Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff had limited admission to only members of the investigative committees, even though 13 members of the group were allowed into the testimony.
“I led over 30 of my colleagues into the SCIF where Adam Schiff is holding secret impeachment depositions,” Gaetz tweeted Wednesday.
Democrats said Republicans violated procedure by bringing phones into a secure area where they are banned.
One lawmaker posted audio of a phone call he made from the room.
Trump praised stunt:
The stunt was reportedly done after notifying Trump, who green-lit the effort.
"I’m glad they did it. The Dems have been doing everything behind closed doors and in secret and so it’s about time somebody made a very bold stand, which is I guess a sit-in, which is what they did. And it was great, and the point was well taken," White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham told “Fox & Friends” on Thursday. "I think they showed full support for the president. He was happy to see it happen. He was very supportive of it as he should be."
Democrats call for punishment:
House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson called on the House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving to “take action” against Republicans for violating the rules.
"This unprecedented breach of security raises serious concerns for committee chairman, including me, responsible for maintaining SCIFs," he said, citing their use of phones.
"As such, I am requesting you take action with respect to the members involved in the breach. More broadly, I urge you to take House-wide action to remind all members about the dangers of such reckless action and the potential national security risks of such behavior," he wrote.