Washington: A group of Republicans briefly brought the Democrat-led impeachment investigation to a halt Wednesday storming into a closed-door deposition with a Defense Department official.
Democrats said the move compromised national security because some of the Republicans brought electronic devices into a secure room. The protest by Republican lawmakers captured national attention, drawing the focus away from the testimony of a top US diplomat who told lawmakers just a day earlier that he was told President Donald Trump was withholding military aid from Ukraine unless the country's president pledged to investigate Democrats.
The maneuver delayed a deposition with Laura Cooper, a senior Defense Department official who oversees Ukraine policy, until midafternoon. The interview began roughly five hours behind schedule, after a security check by Capitol officials, and ended after roughly four hours.
As a series of diplomats have been interviewed in the impeachment probe, many Republicans have been silent on the president's conduct. But they have been outspoken about their disdain for Democrats and the impeachment process, saying it is unfair to them even though they have been in the room questioning witnesses and hearing the testimony.
Democrats deny that Republicans are being treated unfairly, noting they have had equal time to question witnesses and full access to the meetings. Schiff says closed-door hearings are necessary to prevent witnesses from concealing the truth and has promised to release the transcripts when it will not affect the investigation.