Graham, Leading Republicans Push Ahead With Anti-Impeachment Drive


President Trump praised House Republicans Thursday for getting "tough" with Democrats' closed-door impeachment inquiry, a day after dozens of GOP lawmakers stormed their way into the secure room where Democrats are hearing testimony.

Three committees in the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives are investigating allegations of wrongdoing by the president.

As a series of diplomats have been interviewed in the probe, several of them detailing U.S. President Donald Trump's efforts to persuade Ukraine to investigate a political rival, many Republicans have been silent on the president's behaviour.

How did the chaos unfold?

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham criticized his Republican colleagues for the tactic, calling them "nuts" to make a "run on the SCIF". "Foreign adversaries are constantly trying to figure out what goes on inside those rooms to figure out what the U.S. knows about them, to out U.S. high-level sources in their governments, to know what the U.S. government knows and use it against us", she said.

SCIFs are built to prevent electronic eavesdropping, and allow people to review classified information. In audio uploaded to his Twitter account, Rep. Alex Mooney claimed to have placed a phone call inside the room.

A top Pentagon official who oversees policy on Ukraine and Russian Federation is expected to testify before the U.S. House of Representatives panels leading an impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump.

Why did they barge in?

All members of Congress are familiar with the protocol of the SCIF, since they are often invited to classified briefings, and there are several such rooms around the Capitol.

In what became a four-hour standoff, GOP members remained in the room, at one point ordering pizza, soda and snacks for lunch as they waited, according to press reports.

Not surprisingly, after Republicans entered the room, committee chairman Adam Schiff (D-Whistleblower) quickly stopped the hearing.

However, more than 40 Republicans are members of those committees, and permitted to take part in the hearings.

Taylor also described two distinct channels he said emerged for USA policymaking toward Ukraine under Trump - one overseen by the diplomatic establishment and another overseen by the president's personal attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani, with assistance from several Trump appointees.

Hunter's firm Rosemont Seneca Partners LLC, "received regular transfers into one of its accounts - usually more than $166,000 a month - from Burisma from spring 2014 through fall 2015, during a period when Vice President Biden was the main us official dealing with Ukraine and its tense relations with Russian Federation", according to an investigation by John Solomon at The Hill.

He claimed the current impeachment probe sets a unsafe precedent that will forever change the office of the president.

William Taylor, the top USA diplomat in Ukraine, testified on Tuesday that Trump had made the aid contingent on the Ukrainian president announcing he would investigate Biden, his son Hunter Biden's tenure on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company, and a debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine, and not Russian Federation, meddled in the 2016 US presidential election.

The lawmakers were echoing objections made by White House Counsel Pat Cipollone in an October 8 letter to top House Democrats that said Trump's lawyers must be allowed to call and cross-examine witnesses, access evidence, and be afforded other "basic rights guaranteed to all Americans".

Democratic congressman David Cicilline described Wednesday's protest as "a stunt that corresponded very specifically to the president's complaint that they weren't fighting hard enough for him, and in direct response to devastating testimony. from Ambassador Taylor".

The Republicans who took part in the protest were unbowed.

"Obviously, we have a lot of incoming right now", Thune said.