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Republicans Storm the SCIF--or Send In the Clowns

Submitted by Robin Messing on Mon, 11/11/2019 - 5:52am

Matt Gaetz and over 30 House Republican Representatives stormed the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) where the House was gathering evidence for its impeachment hearings, cell phones in hand, and delayed Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper's testimony by five hours in order to protest what they claimed was an unfair process that lacked transparency. They did not like that the testimony was happening behind closed doors where no one could see it. They also objected to Trump not being allowed to have a lawyer present during the testimony to cross examine the witnesses and represent Trump's interests.  FOX News quoted the leaders explaining why they protested.


“We’re going to try and go in there, and we’re going to try to 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,” Gaetz said.


The Republicans specifically called out Schiff, D-Calif., who is leading the investigation.

“What is Adam Schiff trying to hide?” asked House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La. “I think that’s the question so many people have, so many of my colleagues have, so many people in the press should have.”

“Voting members of Congress are being denied access from being able to see what’s happening behind these closed doors where they’re trying to impeach the president of the United States with a one-sided set of rules,” Scalise continued. “They call the witnesses. They don’t let anybody else call the witnesses.”

National security experts were outraged by this brazen break in. Let's look at why their actions were so misguided.

  1. These hearings are more like grand juries then like trials. They are being conducted behind closed doors for a reason. If the witnesses testified publicly then those who testified later would have the opportunity to align their stories with the stories presented by earlier witnesses.  If, on the other hand, they were kept in the dark about what earlier witnesses had said then they could not align their stories and would be more likely to tell the truth.
  2. These are just preliminary hearings. Their purpose is to take witness testimony. Some of their testimony will be presented to the public when the House holds public hearings before a vote for impeachment. The real trial will take place in the Senate where the President can have his lawyers cross examine the witnesses and object to testimony that goes outside the rules.
  3. The Republican Representatives were not being kept in the dark as Gaetz and Scalise implied. The claim that the Republicans didn't know what was going on inside the SCIF was a lie. There are 17 Republicans on the House Oversight and Reform Committee, 9 Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee, and 21 Republicans on the House Foreign Affairs Committee who were not only allowed inside the SCIF during the hearings--they were allowed to question the witnesses as well. If Republicans who were not on the relevant committees felt like they were in the dark then they could have asked any of their 47 Republican colleagues who were on the committees to report back to them. Marcy Wheeler, an independent journalist who writes about national security issues annotated a press release from Matt Gaetz which named the 41 Republicans who were scheduled to storm the SCIF. Wheeler's annotated list notes that 12 of those Republicans were on one of the three committees whose members were authorized to be in the SCIF during the impeachment hearings. (Scroll down to the bottom of her post to see the updated list.) Those 12 did not need to storm the SCIF to know first hand what was going on. All they had to do was show up for the hearings. For them, this was nothing but a publicity stunt.
  4. Republicans have no one but themselves to blame if they don't like the procedures for taking testimony in a SCIF. Watch the video of Judge Andrew Napolitano on Fox & Friends telling his colleagues that these were the rules that REPUBLICANS passed in 2015 and that the Democrats are behaving consistent with THE RULES PASSED BY THE REPUBLICANS. Funny, Republicans didn't hate these rules when they were using them to go after Hillary Clinton for Benghazi. (To his credit, Trey Gowdy defended the use of private sessions for questioning witnesses, saying, "The private ones [sessions] always produce better results.) In addition, Wheeler's annotated list included 27 Republicans who "had voted for a rule holding that such protests on the House floor (to say nothing of inside HPSCI’s SCIF) were a violation of House Rules". Wheeler linked to a page with names of those who had voted for rules that prohibited such protests in 2017.  My Congressman, Tom Reed's name was on that list, along with the names of 236 other Republicans. Though Reed was not among those who stormed the SCIF, he went on record supporting those who did.
  5. Matt Gaetz and his Cavalcade of Clowns jeopardized national security by bringing their cell phones into the SCIF in violation of security procedures. This was a major Bozo No-No. Mieka Eoyang has dealt with cyber security issues inside a SCIF. She explained why this reckless stunt was so dangerous to our national security in a remarkable series of tweets.












I guess that pulling needless publicity stunts are more important to the Republicans than keeping our nation secure. They may have won the contempt of national security experts, but at least they got brownie points from Donald Trump who reportedly knew in advance that they were going pull this stunt and gave them his blessings. Bloomberg News reports:


Trump Backed GOP Plan to Protest Inquiry (1:37 p.m.)

Trump had advance knowledge and supported a protest by Republicans who told him they planned to barge into a secure hearing room on Capitol Hill where Democrats are holding impeachment testimonies, according to four people familiar with the matter.

Trump on Tuesday met with about 30 House Republicans at the White House to talk about the situation in Syria and the impeachment inquiry. During a nearly two-hour meeting, which focused mostly on the impeachment inquiry, lawmakers shared their plans to storm into the secure room, the people said. Trump supported the action, saying he wanted the transcripts released because they will exonerate him, the people said.

About two dozen GOP House members occupied the secure hearing room early Wednesday, delaying a scheduled deposition. -- Saleha Mohsin, Jennifer Jacobs and Josh Wingrove