Trump impeachment: Republicans storm secure hearing

Elias Hubbard
October 25, 2019

Most Republicans are still standing by Trump with a range of reactions from cautious, poorly coordinated responses critical of Democrats' handling of the impeachment probe to storming a Capitol Hill hearing to disrupt testimony a day after Tuesday's closed-door testimony by acting ambassador William Taylor.

A witness inside the room said the Republicans brought mobile phones into the high-security facility where electronic devices were forbidden.

The protest delayed the testimony of Laura Cooper, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, for five hours, although she resumed her testimony later in the afternoon.

For several weeks, Democrats have questioned current and former Trump administration officials about allegations that Trump threatened to withhold USA aid to Ukraine until that country opened an investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden, one of Trump's main rivals in the 2020 election.

"One of the reasons you do these in private is because you want to prevent witnesses from attempting to align their testimony to the testimony of another witness by watching it or reading a transcript".

Congressional Republican lawmakers and aides say they are taking the reins to defend the President in the impeachment inquiry amid mounting fears that the White House is not consistent nor organized enough to lead the President's defense.

"Every member of Congress ought to be allowed in that room".

Democrats accuse him of illegally pressuring Ukraine to dig up dirt on a political rival, but Mr Trump and his supporters say he has done nothing wrong.

"That's not the way to do it", he said.

"This is nuts, they're making a run on the SCIF", said Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of SC, a close ally of Mr. Trump, referring to the Secure Compartmentalized Information Facility where the intelligence panel meets. He added, "We'll get back to you on the timing".

The inquiry is led by a Democrat - Adam Schiff - and being run by the House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees. Details are now being worked out regarding which witnesses would be placed in the hot seat and who would ask them questions, either lawmakers or lawyers.

Several Republicans appeared to be tweeting from the secure room. Georgia Rep. Buddy Carter wrote that "my Republican colleagues and I just stormed the impeachment hearing room and finally got in".

"I talked to Chief of Staff Mulvaney".

Taylor testified that he was told by Gordon Sondland, the USA envoy to the European Union, that Trump had linked the release of aid to public declarations by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that he would investigate Biden, his son Hunter Biden's tenure on the board of a Ukrainian energy company, and an already debunked theory that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 US presidential election.

"They're freaked out. They're trying to stop this investigation", Democratic representative Ted Lieu said.
"They know more facts are going to be delivered which are absolutely damning to the president of the United States".

"Just having members hauled off, even though it might give some people great pleasure, I think we just have to handle it in a better fashion", Lynch said.

As some members remained in the room, Democratic Rep. Steven Lynch said Democrats shouldn't call security to remove the Republicans because it would be "theatrics". "Hopefully, with some deliberations, cooler heads will prevail".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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