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Photo: Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images

About 30 House Republicans attempted to force entry Wednesday into the closed-door hearing where Laura Cooper, deputy assistant secretary of defense, was scheduled to testify in the impeachment inquiry into President Trump and Ukraine.

The big picture: The Republicans are protesting a lack of transparency in the impeachment process, alleging that the inquiry is not legitimate because a full House vote has not been held and attacking Democrats for holding hearings in private. Because of their efforts to disrupt the hearing, Cooper's testimony was delayed for five hours and began at about 3 pm ET.

Between the lines: Republicans reportedly took pictures inside the House Intelligence Committee's Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) — forcing police to conduct a sweep for possible security breaches. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) tweeted from inside the SCIF: "BREAKING: I led over 30 of my colleagues into the SCIF where Adam Schiff is holding secret impeachment depositions. Still inside - more details to come."

  • Gaetz later added: "**Tweet from Staff**"

Worth noting: The group alleges that they are being shut out of the impeachment process, but there are Republicans on the three panels conducting the investigation — the House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees — that are present and able to ask questions at every hearing.

  • A full House vote authorizing an impeachment inquiry would likely allow Republicans to call their own witnesses, but any subpoenas they attempt to issue could be vetoed by Democrats.
  • House Intelligence Committee member Jim Himes (D-Conn.) explained earlier this month that the depositions are private to protect classified information and prevent Trump allies who are being questioned from coordinating their testimonies. He added that witness transcripts will eventually be scrubbed and released to the public.

Go deeper ... Trump's new reality: A daily dump of impeachment leaks

Go deeper

Home confinees face imminent return to prison

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Thousands of prisoners who've been in home confinement for as long as a year because of the pandemic face returning to prison when it's over — unless President Biden rescinds a last-minute Trump Justice Department memo.

Why it matters: Most prisoners were told they would not have to come back as they were released early with ankle bracelets. Now, their lives are on hold while they wait to see whether or when they may be forced back behind bars. Advocates say about 4,500 people are affected.

The "essential" committee that still doesn't exist

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

Nearly five months after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced the creation of the bipartisan Select Committee on Economic Disparity and Fairness in Growth, it's not been formed much less met.

Why it matters: Select committees are designed to address urgent matters, but the 117th Congress is now nearly one-quarter complete without this panel assembling. When she announced this committee, Pelosi described it as an "essential force" to "combat the crisis of income and wealth disparity in America."

Biden's ethics end-around for labor

President Biden surveys a water treatment plant during a visit to New Orleans today. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

The Biden administration is excusing top officials from ethics rules that would otherwise restrict their work with large labor unions that previously employed them, federal records show.

Why it matters: Labor's sizable personnel presence in the administration is driving policy, and the president's appointment of top union officials to senior posts gives those unions powerful voices in the federal bureaucracy — even at the cost of strictly adhering to his own stringent ethics standards.

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