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A group of over two dozen House Republicans on Wednesday barged into a secure room in the U.S. Capitol building ahead of a closed-door deposition and delayed the testimony of Pentagon official Laura Cooper, a witness in House Democrats' impeachment inquiry.
"The GOP members who protested the Cooper deposition have essentially shut down the impeachment inquiry for a time," reported the Washington Post's Rachel Bade.
Many of the Republicans involved in the stunt are not members of the House Intelligence, Judiciary, and Foreign Affairs Committees and were therefore not authorized to enter the hearing room.
"Let's see if we can get in," Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), the leader of the group, said at a press conference Wednesday.
Led by @MattGaetz and assisted by @SteveScalise, House Republicans stage a publicity stunt in which they try to storm the doors of the House Intelligence Committee as they hold the Trump impeachment inquiry. This is an attempt to squelch the negative news about quid pro quo, etc pic.twitter.com/4EsfsVo38k
— Oliver Willis (@owillis) October 23, 2019
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
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Ben Siegel of ABC News reported that some of the GOP lawmakers, including Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), were "screaming" as they entered the hearing "and all brought phones into the secure SCIF room," a major violation of House rules. Several Republican lawmakers, including Gaetz, appeared to tweet from inside the secure room and later claimed the tweets were sent by staff.
**Tweet from Staff**
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) October 23, 2019
According to CNN,
A source in the room said that as the witness, Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary Laura Cooper, was sitting down to testify, the Republicans stormed through the room's three different doors. Rep. Bradley Byrne of Alabama was yelling at House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, but the California Democrat did not engage, the source said. Other Democrats, including Rep. Val Demings of Florida, shouted back at both Byrne and Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas, who were yelling about the process.
Cooper left the room while the Republicans refused to vacate the space.
Schiff, in response to the interruption, briefly left the hearing room to consult the sergeant-at-arms about removing the unauthorized Republican lawmakers.
"That's a lot of sitting members of Congress who are physically obstructing justice," tweeted Sludge reporter Alex Kotch.