Updated Oct 23, 2019

House Republicans storm closed impeachment hearing in protest

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

House Democrats race to finish impeachment inquiry in 2019

Photo: Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images

House Democrats hope to wrap up private impeachment depositions during a previously scheduled recess next week, then begin public hearings when they return Nov. 12.

Why it matters: House Democrats still hope to finish the impeachment process in 2019.

Go deeperArrowOct 30, 2019

What to expect from impeachment

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Starting today, Democrats will do everything they can to put the most damaging testimony against President Trump in front of the public — while Republicans try to put as much distance as possible between Trump and the efforts to pressure Ukraine.

Why it matters: The American public, which has largely been left out of the impeachment process so far, will get a front row seat to the fourth attempt in U.S. history to remove a president from office.

Go deeperArrowNov 13, 2019

Read: Defense official raises Ukraine aid concerns at impeachment inquiry

Laura Cooper, deputy assistant secretary of defense, arrives on Capitol Hill before attending a closed-door deposition in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 30. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Laura Cooper, deputy assistant secretary of defense, told House impeachment investigators President Trump directed the freezing of military aid for Ukraine via the Office of Management and Budget over corruption concerns, a testimony transcript released Monday shows.

Why it matters: The issue of whether Trump withheld aid in an illegal abuse of power is central to the inquiry. Cooper indicated that officials were concerned about the legalities of withholding aid, testifying that at a meeting held the day after Trump's July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that "deputies began to raise concerns about how this could be done in a legal fashion."

Go deeperArrowNov 12, 2019