12 Republicans who stormed closed-door impeachment proceedings already had permission to attend
- Many of the House Republicans who stormed a closed-door hearing as part of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump were allowed to go inside, if they had wanted.
- More than 30 Republicans forced their way into the hearing on Wednesday, delaying it for around five hours. They now face allegations of risking national security.
- 12 were already able to attend the meeting as they sit on relevant committees, but they said they entered to protest its secrecy.
- Longstanding rules mean that witnesses are supposed to be interviewed in a classified setting. Democrats say they will hold open hearings once their initial investigation is done.
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Twelve of the House Republicans who stormed a closed-door impeachment hearing in protest already had permission to attend the meetings.
More than 30 House Republicans, headed by Rep. Matt Gaetz, forced their way into the hearing on Wednesday, leading it to be delayed for around five hours.
They said in a press conference that they were protesting the secrecy of the hearing, and would not leave until it was made public.
They did not address the allegations against President Donald Trump, which center on him asking Ukraine's president to investigate Joe Biden, the former vice president and a 2020 challenger to Trump.
But, as Business Insider's Kelly McLaughlin highlighted, there are longstanding rules that witnesses are supposed to be interviewed in a way that can stay classified.
Further, as Axios and Buzzfeed News also reported, many of those Republicans were actually already able to attend the meeting because they sit on relevant committees, including the Oversight or Foreign Affairs committees. These 12 are:
- Paul Gosar of Arizona
- Mark Green of Tennessee
- Jody Hice of Georgia
- Jim Jordan of Ohio
- Fred Keller of Pennsylvania
- Carol Miller of West Virginia
- Ralph Norman of South Carolina
- Mark Meadows of North Carolina
- Scott Perry of Pennsylvania
- Steve Watkins Kansas
- Ron Wright of-Texas
- Lee Zeldin of New York
A spokesperson for Keller told Buzzfeed that he attended the protest " in solidarity with those members of Congress who are not allowed in the hearings, to review testimony, or read transcripts of this secret inquiry."
A spokesperson for Rep. Ken Buck, who is on the Foreign Affairs Committee, told Buzzfeed that Buck did not attend the protest, but he tweeted criticism of the closed testimony.
The Republicans entered the room during the testimony of Laura Cooper, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia.
The lawmakers were heavily criticized by intelligence veterans who spoke to Business Insider's Sonam Sheth and Lauren Frias. They said the fact that Republicans entered a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF), which is where the testimony was taking place, could have jeopardized national security.
A SCIF is designed to "to prevent electronic eavesdropping" from foreign intelligence services and no electronic devices like cell phones, are allowed in. But witnesses told The Washington Post that several Republicans brought their phones in.
Glenn Carle, a former CIA covert operative, told Business Insider that cellphones in such a context are "essentially microphones for sophisticated intelligence services."
Democrats say they will open up public hearings in the coming weeks, after their initial investigation.