House Republicans, frustrated at the Democrats’ secretive and constantly evolving impeachment inquiry rules, stormed a House Intelligence Committee hearing Wednesday, demanding access to witness Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper.
House Intel Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) reportedly left the hearing room with Cooper when the Republicans crashed, and threatened to slap them with an ethics complaint.
Developing: House GOP members storm a secure hearing room to interrupt witness testimony in the impeachment inquiry into @realDonaldTrump @RepMattGaetz led the charge. https://t.co/mWBdJSGZdh pic.twitter.com/Lj1P7mSnVb
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) October 23, 2019
Before leading the incursion into the room, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) explained why they were taking the drastic step.
“Because if behind closed doors, they intend to overturn the results of an American presidential election, we want to know what’s going on,” he said. “So far, Adam Schiff’s impeachment inquiry has been marked by secret interview, selective leaks, weird theatrical performances of transcripts that never happened, and lies about contacts with the whistleblower.”
By “weird theatrical performances,” Gaetz was referring to Rep. Schiff’s now infamous reading of the transcript from the phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in which he fabricated quotes to make the president sound like a mob boss.
WATCH: @RepMattGaetz shows House Democrats are "intent to overturn the results of an American election," saying the impeachment probe has "been marked by secret interview, selective leaks… and lies." pic.twitter.com/NDtrrGwn0H
— MRCTV.org (@mrctv) October 23, 2019
“Adam Schiff just SHUT DOWN his secret underground impeachment hearing after I led a group of Republicans into the room,” Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.) tweeted. “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!”
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
Republican members of the House Armed Services Committee said they wanted access to the witness, Laura Cooper, because the hearing was under the Armed Services panel’s jurisdiction. Because they are not on the three committees leading the impeachment inquiry, Schiff had them ejected from the room.
Rep. Michael Waltz, a Florida Republican, said staff let them in the committee room, but denied their request to listen to Cooper’s testimony.
“Now we are being threatened with ethics violations,” said Waltz after leaving the room. “We, as sitting members of Congress, with jurisdiction over the witness, and over military aid, are being threatened.”
Staff did let us in the committee room.
My colleagues and I proceeded respectfully to ask for access to the witness testimony.
Now we’re being told @RepAdamSchiff is threatening us with ethics violations, simply for requesting access to the transcripts in this process.
— Rep. Michael Waltz (@RepMichaelWaltz) October 23, 2019
When the Republicans entered the room, Schiff got up and left, taking the witness with him, Waltz said.
“We simply very calmly walked into the room, sat down, and were ready to hear the proceedings,” Waltz said. “Adam Schiff got up and left — with the witness.”
Republicans complained that they do not have access to transcripts of testimony from the impeachment hearings.
“I’ve been asking to see the Sondland transcript for days,” said Rep. Bradley Byrne, an Alabama Republican, referring to the closed-door testimony given by U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland.
Waltz, a Green Beret, said that he’s fought in third world countries that had “fairer processes than what what we’re seeing today.”
The congressman pointed out that because of the Democrats’ deranged obsession with impeaching President Trump, they have failed to pass a defense bill.
“We’re on a continuing resolution which means all of the new programs which they need to face China, to face Russia, to face Iran, to face North Korea, to continue to combat terrorism can’t start yet,” Waltz told reporters. “Because we have six committees! Six committees dealing with this investigation!”
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
Rep. Jim Jordan explained that one of the ways Republicans are being kept in the dark is through keeping key witnesses secret. On page one of the whistleblower’s complaint he said, is a list of “more than a half a dozen individuals who formed the basis of his complaint.”
“We have no idea who these folks are,” he added.
• Why don't we know who the whistleblower is?
• Why is this so-called #impeachment "inquiry" being ran secretly in the basement of the U.S. Capitol?
• Why are the American people being left in the dark?@RepAdamSchiff owes us all answers. pic.twitter.com/1NZUqq9Fwz
— Oversight Committee Republicans (@GOPoversight) October 23, 2019
Yesterday evening on Fox news, Rep. John Rattcliffe (R-Texas), who is on the House Intelligence Committee and has been privy to the secretive hearings, explained why Republicans are so frustrated with Schiff’s handling of the impeachment “inquiry” and why Schiff himself should be considered a “material witness” in the case.
“Adam Schiff changes the rules literally day to day based on what’s happening,” he told “The Story” host Martha MacCallum.
“We don’t know witnesses that are being called or what they’re going to be focusing on,” he added.
“This is an abuse of power. This is us finding out when we walk through the door what the rules of the day are going to be for that particular witness.”
He said something as important as an impeachment inquiry should be conducted in the open—”not behind closed doors, not as a secret Grand Jury where Adam Schiff—who is a material witness in this case!—gets to make up the rules as they go.”
Ratcliffe said Republicans have a number of questions for Schiff that need answers, and listed a few: “Why don’t we know why the person who ultimately became a whislteblower first went to Chairman Schiff and his staff? When did they meet? How long did they meet? Did they talk about Ukraine, did they talk about military aid? Were they referred to a whistleblower lawyer?”
He said the only way to find out the truth would be to put Schiff, his staff and the whistleblower under oath to answer the questions.
But, as Ratcliffe noted, Schiff won’t do that.
Instead, “he keeps trotting in career ambassadors who are alarmed with Donald Trump’s unconventional approach to foreign policy,” the Texas congressman complained. “Who’s surprised at that???” he added.
Ratcliffe said that so far, none of the witnesses in the case have been able to establish that any quid pro quo took place.
“Neither he (Acting Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor) or any other witness has provided testimony that the Ukrainians were aware that military aid was being withheld,” he explained. “You can’t have a quid pro quo with no quo.”