WASHINTON (NBC News) – Dozens of House Republicans stormed into a secure, closed-door impeachment deposition Wednesday, derailing testimony from a top Pentagon official.
The protest violated House rules, which only allow members to participate in depositions if they serve on the committees holding them. Many carried cell phones into the SCIF, or Sensitive Compartment Information Facility, where the deposition was being held. Electronic devices are not permitted in the SCIF and the Representatives were forced to surrender their devices after entering.
The protesting Republicans, who don’t sit on the committees conducting the investigation, said they were coming to the president’s defense one day after Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine revealed damaging evidence of a political quid-pro-quo.
“They’re freaked out, they’re trying to stop this investigation,” Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) said. “They know more facts are going to be delivered that are absolutely damning to the President of the United States.”
Ambassador Taylor told House investigators he was told that in order to receive military aid Ukraine’s president had to “go to a microphone and say he is opening investigations of Biden and 2016 election interference.”
The White House dismissed Taylor’s testimony, calling it “more triple hearsay.”
President Donald Trump, meanwhile, created a competing headline by announcing that the U.S. will lift all sanctions against Turkey after the country agreed to make a cease-fire in northern Syria permanent. The president claims that vindicates his decision to pull troops out of the region.
“Let someone else fight over this long, blood-stained sand,” Trump said.
Lawmakers from both parties were sharply critical of the move that abandoned the Kurds — a key U.S. ally in the fight against ISIS.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has since stepped forward to help strike a deal to drive Kurds out of the region they call their home.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), one of Trump’s biggest supporters and harshest critics on Syria, said we can’t rely on Russia to protect America against ISIS.
I’m hoping we can end this well, and it’s possible to end it well, but you cannot rely on Syria, Russia or Turkey to protect the United States against ISIS,” Graham said. “Without a small American contingent on the ground in Syria, the fight against ISIS will go badly. They will come back. The good news is, a couple hundred of our folks working with the SDF, and we should be able to keep ISIS at bay.”
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