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Republicans disrupt closed-door testimony

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on October 23, 2019 - Duration: 01:25s

Republicans disrupt closed-door testimony

Republican lawmakers Matt Gaetz, Steve Scalise and some of their colleagues on Wednesday disrupted a closed-door meeting that is part of the U.S. House of Representatives impeachment inquiry in which a senior Pentagon official who oversees U.S. defense policy on Ukraine and Russia was testifying.

Rough Cut (no reporter narration).

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Republicans disrupt closed-door testimony

Republicans, encouraged by President Donald Trump to get tougher in fighting Democrats' attempts to impeach him, stormed into a hearing room where Laura Cooper, the U.S. defense official who oversees Ukraine and Russia matters, was due to testify behind closed doors and began yelling, lawmakers and aides said.

The impeachment inquiry focuses on Trump's request for Ukraine to investigate a domestic rival - Democrat Joe Biden - for his personal political benefit.

In a dramatic confrontation during an escalating probe that threatens Trump's presidency even as he seeks re-election next year, Capitol police were called in to clear the room and bring order, a Republican congressional aide said.

A witness inside the room said the Republicans brought cellphones into the high-security facility where electronic devices are forbidden.

Republicans have called the rules for the impeachment inquiry set by the leaders of the Democratic-led House unfair.

The U.S. Constitution gives the House wide latitude in how to conduct the impeachment process and set rules for the inquiry.

The witness who saw the events said the Republican lawmakers pushed past Capitol Police personnel and started yelling, voicing their objections to decisions made by the Democratic leaders of the House to hold depositions in closed sessions and not release transcripts of the testimony.

Republican Representative Matt Gaetz, an outspoken Trump supporter who led Wednesday's action, had tried to enter the committee room last week but was turned away because he was not a member of any of the three committees leading the investigation.

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