UPDATE: Roughly three hours after the standoff began, reports began to circulate on Twitter that the remaining Republicans had ordered pizza. "They’re a bunch of brave freedom fighters having pizza in a secure conference room," complained Rep. Tom Malinowski to The Daily Beast.
Rep. Matt Gaetz and Freedom Caucus members held a press conference demanding transparency in the Democrats' impeachment inquiry Wednesday in the basement of the Capitol building before storming the classified Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) where hearings are being held.
Gaetz mocked Democrats for being "obsessed" with attacking the president with "secret interviews and selective leaks" before announcing that the group of Republicans was "going to go and see if we can get inside.”
Rep. Mo Brooks: "By golly, if they're going to do it, do it in public. Don't hide it from the American people. Show your face where we can all see the travesty that you are trying to foist on America & the degradation of our Republic that you are engaged in." pic.twitter.com/LrGJ4mCF7w— The Hill (@thehill) October 23, 2019
Gaetz and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise led more than two dozen Republican members of Congress into the classified hearing room where House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff was about to preside over testimony from Laura Cooper, a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense who works on Ukraine issues.
Developing: House GOP members storm a secure hearing room to interrupt witness testimony in the impeachment inquiry into @realDonaldTrump @RepMattGaetz led the charge. https://t.co/mWBdJSGZdh pic.twitter.com/Lj1P7mSnVb— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) October 23, 2019
INSIDE THE ROOM: Rep. Connolly said two-dozen Republicans “stormed” into the SCIF, delaying the start of the Cooper deposition.— Ben Siegel (@benyc) October 23, 2019
He said a few, including Rep. Gohmert, were “screaming,” and all brought phones into the secure SCIF room. (Rep. Conaway ended up collecting them.)
Laura Cooper’s scheduled deposition has been upended by a group of House Republicans storming the hearing room, members say. Repubs took cellphones into the secure area, which is a huge violation. We’re told the room will need a security sweep before the deposition can continue.— Geoff Bennett (@GeoffRBennett) October 23, 2019
“A whole bunch of Republican Congress members who were duly elected just tried to get in to find out what is going on in their closed hearings, because we were elected to Congress and we don’t even know what is going on,” Republican member of the Judiciary Committee Debbie Lesko of Arizona told reporters.
The Democratic Party responded on Twitter, saying the hearings were not political and involved Republicans on the Intelligence Committee:
The GOP isn't being shut out of this process — the Republican members of the relevant committees or their staff are in the SCIF for these depositions already. It's disturbing that Trump's lackeys are willing to put our national security at risk for a desperate political stunt.— The Democrats (@TheDemocrats) October 23, 2019
About three hours later, Rep. Andy Biggs tweeted from the supposed-to-be-classified room that there were about 15 Republicans remaining in "Adam Schiff’s secret chamber."