Politics

House Chair Asks Sergeant-at-Arms to Take Action After Republicans Enter Secure Hearing

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) asked the top congressional law enforcement official to “take action” after Republican lawmakers brought in electronic devices to a secure facility as a witness was under deposition during the impeachment inquiry.

Thompson alleged that Republicans decision to bring phones into the sensitive compartmented information facility (SCIF) violated intelligence community protocols to protect classified information.

“This unprecedented breach of security raises serious concerns for committee chairman, including me, responsible for maintaining SCIFs,” Thompson said in a letter (pdf) to Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving on Wednesday.

He asked Irving to take action on the matter, but he did not elaborate.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) (C), House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) (L), and other Republican House members in the Capitol Visitor Center on Oct. 23, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
Bill Taylor (C), the top U.S. diplomat to Ukraine, arrives at a closed session before the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees on Oct. 22, 2019. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

“As such, I am requesting you take action with respect to the members involved in the breach. 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,” Thompson said.

On Wednesday morning, around 30 Republican lawmakers entered the SCIF to witness depositions. Only the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, and Oversight and Reform committees are tasked with heading the impeachment inquiry.

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), a member of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, said he collected lawmakers phones and brought them outside the room in accordance with the rules.

Rep. Jim Jordan, (R-Ohio), speaks to the media
Rep. Jim Jordan, (R-Ohio), speaks to the media
House Oversight and Reform Committee ranking member Rep. Jim Jordan, (R-Ohio), speaks to the media during a press conference in Washington on Oct. 23, 2019. (Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images)

“You certainly want a secure environment, but at the same time I think everybody wants to hear exactly whats going on,” Meadows told reporters, according to The Hill.

Republican lawmakers said that staff members sent out tweets as they were in the SCIF.

A number of other Democratic lawmakers blasted the move and namely Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), who initiated the press conference before the House members entered the secure meeting.

“The GOP isnt being shut out of this process Read More – Source