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
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.
America hits five million COVID-19 cases: Johns Hopkins
The United States has registered over five million cases in the coronavirus pandemic, Johns Hopkins University's real-time tally showed Sunday, as well as over 162,000 deaths as the country struggles to control the disease.
The US tally reached 5,000,603 cases on Sunday morning and 162,441 deaths -- both totals by far the highest of any country in the world.
Polls have showed a large majority of voters unhappy with President Donald Trump's handling of the crisis, ahead of the November election that could see him ousted from office.
"The United States just passed 5 million reported infections of COVID-19," his Democrat opponent Joe Biden tweeted Sunday.
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Joe Biden says he won’t stand in the way of a possible prosecution of Trump
Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden told NPR on Thursday that while he was unsure if it was "good for democracy," if elected he would not stand in the way of a hypothetical Justice Department prosecution of President Donald Trump for crimes committed in office.
"Look, the Justice Department is not the president's private law firm," the former vice president said. "The attorney general is not the president's private lawyer. I will not interfere with the Justice Department's judgment of whether or not they think they should pursue the prosecution of anyone that they think has violated the law."