WASHINGTON, D.C. — Republican supporters of President Donald Trump in the U.S. House of Representatives may disrupt more presidential impeachment inquiry hearings if no changes are made in the processes of the House committees holding those hearings, Rep. Matt Gaetz said Wednesday.
Gaetz was among a number of House Republicans who stormed a secure meeting facility in the basement of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday where the House Intelligence Committee was set to hear impeachment-inquiry-related testimony from a top Pentagon official, prompting a lengthy delay in the proceedings.
Gaetz Democratic members of those committees for, in his view, “sacrificing due process (of law) on the altar of their hate for this president.”
We’re going to try and figure out what’s taking place on behalf of the millions of Americans that we represent.
Our constituents want to see a Congress working for them- not one obsessed with attacking a president who we believe has not done anything to deserve impeachment. pic.twitter.com/TQ0JHlA6x9
Conceding that the U.S. Constitution does not lay out any specific procedures for impeachment inquiries, Gaetz argued that in the two previous impeachments in modern American history, Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton were granted a number of due process considerations, including having counsel present in committee hearings.
“There may not be a set constitutional process, but there is well-established precedent,” Gaetz argued.
Gaetz also conceded the point that each of the committees involved in the impeachment inquiry has Republican members.
“But,” he said, “I think more eyes are always good.”
Gaetz has said previously that he expects the House of Representatives to approve articles of impeachment against Trump by Thanksgiving, setting the stage for a Senate trial on those alleged impeachable offenses.
Gaetz’s comments Wednesday came shortly after he and dozens of other staunch GOP allies of the president stormed the Capitol’s Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF).
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper was, however, able to begin testimony at mid-afternoon in the SCIF. She was scheduled to testify on fallout from a Trump administration decision to withhold aid from Ukraine.
The president is alleged to have used the aid as a bargaining chip for Ukranian assistance in probing alleged corruption involving Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden and Biden’s son, Hunter.
As a first step in pressuring Democrats for changes in the impeachment hearing process after Wednesday’s attention-grabbing stunt, GOP supporters of the president will write letters to committee chairmen asking them to consider broadening due process protections for the president, Gaetz said.
Should those efforts fail, scenes like Wednesday’s move into the SCIF likely will be repeated, said Gaetz, who added that Republican supporters of the president wouldn’t necessarily show up at every hearing.
In other comments Wednesday, Gaetz countered reports that he and other Republicans who entered the SCIF were yelling at committee members.
“We weren’t disruptive,” he said.
According to Gaetz, voices were raised between committee Democrats and Republicans who entered the SCIF only after Rep. Adam Schiff, D-California, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, left the hearing room with Cooper. Gaetz said he did not participate in those exchanges.
At one point during their time in the SCIF, a core group of Republicans who remained in the room ordered lunch and enjoyed pepperoni, cheese and vegetable pizza, according to Gaetz.
At the news conference preceding the rush into the SCIF, Gaetz said, “I’m gathered here with dozens of my congressional colleagues, underground, in the basement of the Capitol, because if behind those doors they intend to overturn the results of an American presidential election, we want to know what’s going on.
Also speaking at the news conference was Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Louisiana, who asked the gathered media, “What is Adam Schiff trying to hide? ... This shouldn’t be happening in the United States of America, where they’re trying to impeach a president in secret, behind closed doors. The American people deserve better.”