The impeachment inquiry isn’t just happening behind closed doors; it’s happening in a sensitive
compartmented information facility (SCIF) intended to prevent electronic eavesdropping. The purpose of this is both to protect the witnesses who come forward to speak after attempts by the White House to cut off their testimony, and to keep potential witnesses from listening in and calibrating their stories to what has already been said. But on Wednesday morning, a horde of Republican representatives let by Matt Gaetz charged into the impeachment inquiry, violating the security of a witness, and defying the ironclad rules around SCIF by bringing their cell phones into the confidential space.
Over two dozen Republicans flooded into the closed meeting room where testimony was to be heard. They will certainly be thrown out—but not before they’ve disrupted the hearing, shaken their fists at House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, and gotten their five minutes of hate bottled up for display on Fox News. In the process, they also disrupted the morning’s hearings, delaying the testimony of defense official Laura Cooper.
What the Republicans did is absolutely as bad as if outsiders had charged into a conference in a judge’s chambers, it was a violation not just of House rules, but of the foundations of how Congress deals with secure information. Deliberately disrupting a hearing and violating security by bringing cell phones into a posted secure area are egregious violations of House rules.
Someone is extremely likely to be censured because of this stunt—and it’s not going to be Adam Schiff.