- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 23, 2019

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson is requesting the Sergeant at Arms Bill Irving hold Republican members accountable for protesting the impeachment inquiry Wednesday morning.

In a letter to the House’s chief law enforcement officer, Mr. Thompson said Republicans committed a “blatant breach of security” by bringing their cellphones into the secure room, known as a SCIF, where the impeachment proceedings have been taking place.

“This unprecedented breach of security raises serious concerns for Committee Chairman, including me, responsible for maintaining SCIFS,” he wrote. “More broadly, I urge you to take House-wide action to remind all Members about the dangers of such reckless action and the potential national security risks of such behavior.”

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Mr. Thompson did not elaborate on what type of action he’d like to see.

More than a dozen Republican lawmakers forced their way into the room Wednesday, demanding to sit in on the closed-door deposition lawmakers had planned with Department of Defense official Laura Cooper.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy defended the move, saying members had a right to be a part of the process if they’re going to be asked to vote on impeachment.

He also appeared to brush aside concerns about the cellphones in the SCIF, saying sometimes members forget and that ultimately the information in these depositions is not classified.

“These are individuals who have never been in Intel Committee before or anywhere else,” the California Republican said. “So it’s nothing serious from that matter.”

For weeks, Republicans have been demanding more transparency from the impeachment inquiry and slammed it as a secretive, sham process orchestrated entirely by the Democrats.

While Republicans that serve on the House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees — more than 45 members — can participate in the hearings, the minority party argued that impeachment merits participation from all the members.

Democrats emerging from the secure room said there are no firm plans on what consequences these Republican members might face.

Some Democrats such as Rhode Island Rep. David Cicilline suggested that the Republican theatrics were a way pacifying President Trump, though Republicans have strongly rejected those assertions.

“This is a stunt that responded very specifically to the president’s complaint that they weren’t fighting hard enough for him and in in direct response from Ambassador Taylor,” he said.

“Republicans are playing to an audience of one. I’m sure the president is very proud of them,” he added.

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