(NBC News) Dozens of House Republicans stormed into a secure, closed-door impeachment deposition Wednesday, derailing testimony from a top Pentagon official.
“We demand open proceedings, the American people deserve nothing less,” Alabama’s Rep. Mo Brooks said.
Republican members of the committee overseeing the hearing were already present.
The protest violated House rules, which only allow members to participate in depositions if they serve on the committees holding them. Many carried cell phones into the SCIF, or Sensitive Compartment Information Facility, where the deposition was being held. Electronic devices are not permitted in the SCIF and the Representatives were forced to surrender their devices after entering.
“The President has enlisted allies on the Hill to see what they can do to stop the witnesses, but we will go forward with testimony,” House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff said.
The protesting Republicans, who don’t sit on the committees conducting the investigation, said they were coming to the president’s defense one day after Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine revealed damaging evidence of a political quid-pro-quo.
Ambassador Taylor told House investigators he was told that in order to receive military aid Ukraine’s president had to “go to a microphone and say he is opening investigations of Biden and 2016 election interference.”
President Trump later praised the House members who took part, saying “These are warriors. These are people that fight with me all the time on the witch hunts.”