Matt Gaetz, other Republicans crash impeachment hearing

Matt Gaetz, Ross Spano, Republicans
Did Gaetz violate security rules by tweeting from inside?

In a show of protest, Florida Republican U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz and other Republican members of Congress crashed the hearing room where President Donald Trump impeachment inquiry hearings are being held. The group included U.S. Reps. Michael Waltz, Ross Spano, and Bill Posey.

“I led over 30 of my colleagues into the SCIF where Adam Schiff is holding secret impeachment depositions. Still inside – more details to come,” the Fort Walton Beach Republican tweeted around noon Tuesday.

A few minutes later a second tweet seemed to clarify whether Gaetz had violated the rules of the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facilities in the basement of the Capitol Building, by communicating from the inside, though it was not clear. The second tweet read: “Tweet from staff.”

The SCIF rooms are used for classified briefings and other sensitive matters and communication devices such as cell phones are forbidden inside.

A Democratic staffer confirmed that the Republican protesters broke the rule by carrying in such devices.

Waltz indicated in a news release that the protest and its reception were apparently far more civil than a storming, though others gave a different assessment.

“Waltz and fellow Republicans requested access to the House Intelligence Committee’s impeachment proceedings. The members were led inside the committee room but were denied access to proceedings and transcripts,” the release from Waltz’s office indicated.

The protest apparently ended the morning proceedings being led by House Democrats, but to which House Republicans who are members of the inquiry committees are welcome. Gaetz is not a member. The deposition with Laura Cooper, a senior Defense Department official who oversees Ukraine policy, was temporarily on hold.

Democrats deny that Republicans are being treated unfairly, noting they have had equal time to question witnesses and full access to the meetings. But they said the lawmakers — several of whom do not sit on one of the three committees — had compromised security at the closed-door deposition by bringing in cell phones.

Orlando’s Democratic U.S. Rep. Val Demings, a member of the House Intelligence Committee leading the inquiry, blasted her Republican colleagues’ action Wednesday as a “circus-like stunt [that] will delay but will not prevent our search for the truth about the President’s stunning misconduct.”

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Weston Democrat, gave a vastly different account from Waltz’s. She said Republican lawmakers blew past Capitol Police officers and Democratic staffers. The staff member who was checking identification at the entrance was “basically overcome” by the Republicans, she said.

“Literally some of them were just screaming about the President and what we’re doing to him and that we have nothing and just all things that were supportive of the President,” Wasserman Schultz said.

Republican U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina also criticized the Republican House members for the tactic, calling them “nuts” to make a “run on the SCIF.”

“That’s not the way to do it,” he said.

Gaetz is positioning himself as one of Trump’s most activist supporters in Congress. Last week he was thrown out of an earlier impeachment hearing, for not being a committee member, during testimony from diplomat Fiona Hill. However, two weeks ago he was a no-show at his own stop the impeachment rally in St. Petersburg.

The hearing room has capacity for about 75 people. When diplomat William Taylor testified on Tuesday the room reportedly was at capacity for his opening statement, but Republicans left en masse after that, with only a few staying to question him about his testimony regarding President Donald Trump‘s actions in Ukraine.

The protest came after Gaetz and Republican Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana led a news conference protesting the closed-door hearings, contending all members of Congress should be allowed to participate. They called the hearings a sham with the Democrats’ only intention to overturn the 2016 election of Trump.

“Behind those doors they intend to overturn the results of a presidential election. we want to know what’s going on. And it’s only reasonable that we would have questions,” Gaetz said. “Because so far Adam Schiff’s impeachment inquiries have been marked by secret interviews, selective leads, weird theatrical performances and transcripts that never happened, and lies about contacts with whistleblowers.”

Waltz, of St. Augustine Beach, also spoke, stating, “I have fought from Afghanistan to West Africa – I have operated in countries in third world countries who have fairer processes to deal with their elected leadership than what we see today.”

Spano, of Dover, and Posey, of Rockledge, were part of the news conference.

U.S. Rep. Fred Keller of Pennsylvania tweeted that when the Republican protesters entered the room the Democrats recessed the hearing and left.

The protest came a day after Taylor delivered some of the most profound testimony of the investigation. The acting Ambassador to Ukraine charged that he was advised that the White House made an ultimatum that Ukraine pledge investigations into Democrats or the country would not get $391 million in military aid that had been authorized by Congress.

“An overwhelming and growing body of evidence shows that the President exploited and abused national security funding in a scheme to interfere with the 2020 election,” Demings declared. “The White House readout of the President’s call, the text messages between senior diplomats, the public confessions of the President and his chief of staff, and yesterday’s stunning testimony by Ambassador Taylor are all consistent, credible, and damning.

“Republicans in Congress have disputed none of it. Instead, they’ve decided that their only course of action is to disrupt the investigation so it can’t uncover any more evidence,” Demings continued.

Associated Press reporting contributed to this report.

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected].


  • Fed Up

    October 23, 2019 at 1:22 pm

    Gaetz and Company – DEPLORABLES! Are they in third grade?

  • NoMoreRepublicans!

    October 23, 2019 at 1:40 pm

    Gaetz is a complete jerk. Like Trump, he’s only gotten to where he is because of his old man’s money and finagling. And both of ’em – Gaetz and Trump – along with a whole host of other Republicans currently in office – come across like grade school pains in the ass. Flunkies. Zeros. Retards. It’s a shame that that’s the best the Republican party can put out there!

  • Sonja Emily Fitch

    October 23, 2019 at 2:03 pm


  • K Adams

    October 23, 2019 at 2:42 pm

    After all our forefathers went through to try to build this country, it is so disheartening to see what is going on currently with our government officials. The idea of a two-party system makes sense, but when the two parties refuse to even attempt to work across party lines for the good of all, preferring instead to be obstinate asses, it undermines the entire system.
    I’ve never really aligned with either party, preferring instead to consider the merits of each individual who is running for office. I believe there are good members of both parties, but there are so many currently in office who are selfishly pursuing only their own interests, ignoring what is best for their constituents, and ultimately, the entire country, that it really frightens me for our future.

  • CR Kiker

    October 23, 2019 at 7:20 pm

    The bully in chief has directed that all of the other little children on the playground play by his rules. What a basket of gullible the r’s are.
    Is anarchy far behind?

  • John Kociuba

    October 23, 2019 at 10:50 pm

    Dear Citizens ~

    Re: Impeachment

    My fellow Americans, the modern Democratic Party is the Communist Party! Yes. The very definition of Menshevik Communism is “Democratic-Socialism.” Furthermore Communists change titles like a snake sheds skin! Duckduckgo search “Labor Progressive Party ” in the United States to see qho created the “Progressive Movement!”

    Indeed when one never hear truth lies become reality. Google “Black Bolsheviks” like Harry Haywood and Cyril Briggs…Look up Communists like Jay Lovestone, Earl Browder, Saul Alinsky, Harcey Milk, Nancy Pelosi etc

    Nancy Pelosi’s daddy was “Big Tommy Alesandro.” A mob guy connected to Murder Inc amongst many other notorious groups which pumped heroin into Baltimore city! Yes. That’s right! The Speaker of the House of Representatives for the Democratic Party is a MOB DAUGHTER TURNED COMMUNIST!

    Moreocer what did lamestream media tell you? NOTHING! Demorats made Big Tommy Alesandro a Democrat State Representative and his son Tommy Alesandro 3rd Mayor. That’s how STUPID tv has made you all. this fleecing of our public treasury was all before Trump. “The Specter of Communism ” get a quick CIVICS EDUCATION

    • Pedro

      October 24, 2019 at 2:23 am

      As if you can prove anything you have posted! What we know for sure is that Trump and his cronies are definitely fleecing the public Treasury and that appears to be their only goal all along. Also if you learn to spell better we may take you more seriously 😉.

    • Pedro

      October 24, 2019 at 2:42 am

      And impeachment is the constitutional method available to remove a corrupt or criminal President, not sure from your post what any of that has to do with communism?

  • Harry

    October 24, 2019 at 12:00 am

    The republican party. The party of Adolph Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Francisco Franco, and Augusto Pinochet. The party of crooks and swindlers.

    The republican fascist crooks are in a panic. Trump is being exposed as a criminal and they are powerless to stop it. They want to cover it all up because they’ll be exposed as crooks as well.

    • Pedro

      October 24, 2019 at 2:33 am

      Rick Wilson in his book “Everything Trump Touches Dies” lays out plainly his acknowledgement that most of his fellow Republicans have sold their souls and abandoned long cherished conservative principal’s when they jumped on the Trump clown car.

  • Pete C.

    October 24, 2019 at 5:25 pm

    I’d like confirmation that Bill Posey was one of the members who entered the SCIF. Can anyone provide that?

Comments are closed.


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