Ill-informed but clearly passionate Republicans brought the House Democrats’ impeachment investigation to a halt Wednesday for nearly five hours when around two dozen GOP House members stormed into a closed-door deposition with a Defense Department official.
One of the procedural thugs from the House was Iowa’s own U.S. Rep. Steve King, certainly no stranger to efforts to disgrace not only the district – thankfully not ours – but the entire state from which he was elected.
An ongoing string of diplomats have been interviewed in the probe of President Donald Trump’s behavior regarding Ukraine and the allegation that he attempted to persuade – by withholding congressionally-approved funding – Ukraine to investigate a political rival.
While many Republicans have been silent on Trump’s behavior, they have been outspoken about their disdain for Democrats and the impeachment process, saying it is “unfair” to them even though they have been allowed to participate.
Wednesday’s debacle began with a “press conference” outside a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, referred to as a SCIF, a totally secure room where members can hear classified information and where an impeachment-related deposition was to be taken behind closed doors.
“The members have just had it and they want to be able to see and represent their constituents and find out what’s going on,” said Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, the top Republican on the House Oversight and Reform panel, one of three panels leading the investigation. Members of each of those three committees are allowed into the closed door hearings.
We think it’s crucial to understand that the closed door meetings are to determine – as is done by a grand jury meeting secretly – if there is sufficient evidence to impeach the president. Should that determination be made and moved to the Senate for an impeachment trial, evidence collected during the current House investigation will become public.
King was among the group of GOP House members who gathered for the “press conference” outside the SCIF. It’s important to remember that earlier this year, House Republican leaders removed King from all committee assignments following his “white supremacist” comments.
King, who has served in the House for the past 17 years, said in a release, “As we went to the door (of the SCIF) and tried to get in, we were blocked by security, and a good number of the members raised a significant ruckus. And when one of the members came along that was authorized to go into that room, the door was open and about 30 of us went in and stormed and filled the committee room.” Clearly, King has either not bothered to learn or chose to ignore the rules of the congressional body he has served with little or no distinction for the past 17 years.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., who was authorized to be in the room, said of the unauthorized Republicans, “Literally some of them were just screaming about the president and what we’re doing to him and that we have nothing and just all things that were supportive of the president.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of Trump’s staunchest supporters, criticized his Republican colleagues for the tactic, calling them “nuts” to make a “run on the SCIF.” “That’s not the way to do it,” he said.
As appalled, though not surprised, as we were by King’s behavior and ridiculous statement that followed, we’re equally disappointed by the fact that other leading Republicans representing Iowans – Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds – have remained silent regarding an incident that was, in our view, another black eye for Iowa and its residents.