While some details emerged about the tense standoff, which featured a GOP pizza party, new revelations came to light about what occurred inside the SCIF, according to Friday’s transcript release of last month’s deposition of Hill.
Gaetz is a member of the Judiciary Committee. Although the panel drafts and advances any articles of impeachment that may emerge, the inquiry has been conducted by the Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees because it centers on the Ukraine scandal. Not having a seat on one of the three panels meant no access to the SCIF for witness testimonies, according to rules set forth by Schiff.
Gaetz: “I am on the Judiciary Committee.”
Schiff: “Judiciary Committee is not a part of this hearing.”
Gaetz: “I thought the Judiciary Committee had jurisdiction over impeachment.”
Schiff: “Mr. Gaetz, you’re not permitted to be in the room. Please leave.”
At that point, Jordan went to bat for Gaetz. The Ohio Republican and other Trump allies have accused Schiff of breaking House rules throughout the inquiry process and have demanded greater transparency.
Jordan: “Mr. Chairman, really?”
Schiff: “Yes, really.”
Gaetz: “You’re going to include members of Congress on committees that have roles of impeachment—”
Schiff: “Mr. Gaetz, take your statement to the press. They do you no good here. So please absent yourself.”
Gaetz: “You’re going to have someone remove me from the hearing?”
Schiff: “You’re going to remove yourself, Mr. Gaetz.”
Jordan: “Mr. Gaetz is going to stay and listen to the testimony.”
Schiff: “Mr. Gaetz, you’re going to leave the room.”
Gaetz: “No, I think I have a right to be—is there a rule you can cite as to why I am not—”
Schiff: “You’re not a member of this committee. This is conducted in closed session. You’re not permitted to be here.”
Gaetz: “I’m on the Judiciary Committee.”
Schiff: “Mr. Gaetz, please absent yourself from the committee. It’s the ruling of the chair you’re not permitted to be here. Please leave the committee.”
Jordan pointed to members’ lack of attendance in the depositions, arguing that allowing one more person to attend would do no harm. Despite 109 lawmakers—including 47 Republicans—being able to attend, only a fraction of them have been seen by the press coming and going from the SCIF throughout several witness testimonies.
“You’re not permitted to be here. That is the ruling of the chair, and you are required to leave,” Schiff reiterated, citing House and deposition rules. “Mr. Gaetz, you are simply delaying the procedures in violation of the rules. Please absent yourself.”
Gaetz continued to contest.
Gaetz: “Which rule?”
Schiff: “Mr. Gaetz, why don’t you take your spectacle outside? This is not how we conduct ourselves in this committee.”
Gaetz: “I’ve seen how you’ve conducted yourself in this committee, and I’d like to be here to observe.”
Schiff: “We’ll wait until Mr. Gaetz leaves before we begin. I do want to say that this dilatory tactic will come out of the minority’s time for questioning.”
Gaetz: “This isn’t dilatory. You can begin anytime you like.”
Gaetz eventually left the room. He spoke to reporters before filing a House ethics complaint against Schiff for allegedly violating the chamber’s rules. At some point after the exchange, the deposition resumed.
“If House Democrats…are going to give this man an unprecedented amount of power in this process,” Gaetz said, “they are going to know exactly how he has departed from the rules of the House and how he’s fallen short of the ethical standards that should apply to this institution.”
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