House Republicans pulled a stunt last Wednesday (Oct. 23, 2019) in order to disrupt a closed-door hearing in which high level diplomats and government officials were scheduled to give their testimony to the House impeachment inquiry headed by Democratic House Representative Adam Schiff, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
Around 2 dozen Republican lawmakers surged past Capitol Hill police officers and overcame Democratic staffers; whilst compromising the security of the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF), where the closed-door testimonials were scheduled to be heard.
Obviously carried out as a way of showing support for Donald Trump, some were literally shouting at the top of their lungs to attract attention, so that Trump will later see them showing solid opposition against the ongoing impeachment proceedings. Some even went in carrying electronic devices, tweeting about their “storming” of the secured room. North Carolina Republican House Rep. Mark Walker’s tweet read
“UPDATE: We are in the SCIF and every GOP Member is quietly listening.”
Earlier in the week, House Republicans received urging from Donald Trump, by telling his Republican minions to stick together and fight harder. To make his message clear, Trump told them that the reason why House Democrats are more effective is because they do not break ranks.
Naturally, Trump was pleased by the chaos created by the group of House Republicans in the Wednesday closed-door hearings. In a subsequent tweet, he called those who participated in the ruckus as tough, smart and having great understanding that what the Democrats are conducting is a witch hunt.
Apparently, the House Republicans who stormed the SCIF, were either unmindful or did not have a clear understanding of the related Congressional House rules.
Congressional House Rules with Regard to Closed-Door Hearings
First off, the Republicans are overlooking the fact that the purpose for holding closed-door sessions is to make sure that the testimonies of different witnesses will not be influenced by the information provided by earlier witnesses.
During the closed-door session, both parties, Republicans and Democrats alike are represented through lawmakers who have been designated as members of the house committee holding the hearings.
Copies of transcripts detailing the sworn statement or deposition of the witnesses who gave their testimony during the hearing will be released after the closed-door session. House non committee-members excluded from the hearing will have a chance to question the closed-door witnesses in public, at the conclusion of the investigative stage.
Closed-door hearings are held in a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) to ensure that only committee members will be privy to any sensitive or classified information that will be given. This is also the reason why cellphones or any electronic devices are not allowed so as not to compromise or allow potential breach of information related to national security.
Who Wrote and Approved the House Rules for Closed Door Hearings?
Judge Andrew Peter Napolitano who served as Supreme Court Judge for New Jersey from 1987 to 1995, and currently engaged as an analyst for Fox News, pointed out important information about the closed-door House Rules being protested by Republican lawmakers.
The rules were last written in January 2015, and was signed by Republican House Representative John Boehner, in his capacity as the 53rd Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. The rules were enacted by a Republican majority.