It wasn’t the Bastille and today isn’t July 14.
But a citadel was stormed anyway on Wednesday as some two dozen GOP congressmen, led by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), charged into a closed-door House Intelligence Committee impeachment hearing on Capitol Hill and definitely made their presence known.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), chair of the committee, had been in the middle of running the session.
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Said Gaetz before the incursion, “We’re going to try and go in there, and we’re going to try and figure out what’s going on, on behalf of the millions of Americans that we represent that want to see this Congress working for them and not obsess with attacking a president who we believe has not done anything to deserve impeachment.”
When challenged about the move, Gaetz responded with a tweet.
He noted, in part, “Yes, my constituents want me actively involved in stopping the #KangarooCourtCoup run by Shifty Schiff.”
Judiciary Chairman @JerryNadler claimed to have begun the impeachment inquiry weeks ago. Now, his own Judiciary members aren’t even allowed to participate in it.
— Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) October 14, 2019
Schiff stopped the proceedings as soon as the Republicans arrived — and left the area, taking a witness with him.
Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.) tweeted about Schiff’s retreat from the “secret underground impeachment hearing,” also saying, ‘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
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Rep. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) told Fox News of Schiff, “He doesn’t have the guts to come talk to us. He left. He just got up and left … It’s the biggest façade, the biggest farce I’ve ever seen in in my life.”
The rambunctious Republicans occupied the House Intel Committee SCIF — or sensitive compartmented information facility, a secure area designed to hold discussions of sensitive national security matters — into the afternoon. They ordered in 17 pizzas for lunch while one intrepid congressman supplied them with bags of chow from Chick-fil-A.
By mid-afternoon, protesting Republicans vacated the SCIF and the committee hearing restarted.
Some Democrats were not amused by the GOP action. “This is what happens when people elect members more interested in media hits than the protection of our national security,” said one.
And who would that be?
Which elected official supposedly disdains media antics and is so concerned about America’s strategic safety and well being that she would say that? That would be none other than the hermit-like Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.).
What the congresswoman is actually so upset about is that someone in GOP ops earned his or her salary this week by staging an event that showed imagination and aggressive spirit — and one that took the debate directly to the opposition.
Schiff helped matters along by turning tail and running at the first sign of the Republican beachhead. (He also called for the sergeant-at-arms and Capitol Police to disperse the uninvited group, The New York Times reported.)
The predominant GOP mood of the day was perhaps best expressed by House Minority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.): “What is Adam Schiff trying to hide?”
🚨 BREAKING → My colleagues & I went to confront Schiff face-to-face in his locked room in the Capitol basement to see what he's been hiding.
When we got there he immediately shut down the hearing & fled with the witness.
Republicans won't back down! We demand transparency! pic.twitter.com/4Hp1j4KNUk
— Steve Scalise (@SteveScalise) October 23, 2019
As the process continues and Schiff no doubt continues to stonewall the Republicans, the press, and the people by conducting his hearings in secret and by arbitrary rules never before seen by the House — that is a question more and more people may begin to ask.
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