Followed by two- to three-dozen other Republican lawmakers, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Florida) stormed a closed-door hearing room on Wednesday where House investigators were listening to the testimony of a witness speaking on the subject of the ongoing impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump.
Gaetz has for weeks now demanded he and other lawmakers be allowed into the sensitive compartmented information facility (SCIF) hearing room where House investigators have been holding their hearings, WEAR in Pensacola, Florida, reported.
The lawmaker, however, is not part of either the House Intelligence or Oversight Committees, which are overseeing the investigation, and thus does not have the right to be involved that he claims he has. Republicans who are on those committees have been granted access to the inquiry hearings.
Gaetz complained last Monday when he was escorted out of the room where the hearings are taking place. “It’s not like I’m on agriculture. What are the Democrats so afraid of?” he said, according to Fox News.
Gaetz is considered one of the strongest allies to Trump within the House of Representatives. As a result of his and the other lawmakers storming of the SCIF, testimony from a key witness had to be delayed. Gaetz and others may be threatened with ethics violations for their actions on Wednesday as well, WEAR reported.
Many expressed outrage on social media regarding Gaetz’s forced entry into the SCIF. Mieke Eoyang, Vice President for Third Way’s National Security Program, and who also once worked within the House Intelligence Committee’s SCIF room, detailed why it was such a big deal for Gaetz and others to violate protocols.
“Aside from disrupting testimony…Storming the SCIF without respecting the security protocols that require people to leave their electronic devices *outside* the space is actually compromising our national security,” Eoyang explained.
Storming the SCIF without respecting the security protocols that require people to leave their electronic devices *outside* the space, is actually compromising our national security.
— Mieke Eoyang (@MiekeEoyang) October 23, 2019
She further elaborated that what Gaetz did could have allowed foreign actors to get their hands on information they’ve longed over for years.
“Foreign adversaries are constantly trying to figure out what goes on inside those rooms to figure out what the U.S. knows about them, to out U.S. high-level sources in their governments, to know what the U.S. government knows and use it against them,” Eoyang said in another tweet.
“In ‘storming the SCIF’ without observing the security protocols, Rep. Gaetz et al, endangered our national security & demonstrated they care more about a political stunt than protecting intelligence information,” she added.
Kyle Cheney, Congress reporter for Politico, said that Capitol Police already started a sweep to deal with the breach of the SCIF. “The GOP’s storming of the House Intel room (with cell phones in hand) has forced police to conduct a sweep for possible security breaches of what’s supposed to be a secure room,” he tweeted.
As of press time, reporting from within Congress said that at least six Republican lawmakers were still in the hearing room.
Rep. Stephen Lynch says there are six Republicans still in the room who are staging a sit-in of sorts. https://t.co/aVUpqxgtZ3
— Geoff Bennett (@GeoffRBennett) October 23, 2019