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The Guardians of Democracy

House Chair Calls On Sergeant At Arms To ‘Take Action’ After Republicans Bring Electronics To Secure Hearing


House Chair Calls On Sergeant At Arms To ‘Take Action’ After Republicans Bring Electronics To Secure Hearing

House Homeland Security Committee chair Bennie Thompson on Thursday called on the top congressional law enforcement official to “take action” in response to Republican lawmakers bringing electronic devices to a secure facility, known as a sensitive compartmented information facility (SCIF), where an impeachment proceeding was taking place.

In a letter to Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said that GOP lawmakers’ decision to bring cell-phones into the SCIF violated security protocols established by the intelligence community to protect classified information.

“This unprecedented breach of security raises serious concerns for committee chairman, including me, responsible for maintaining SCIFs,” Thompson wrote after the GOP stunt disrupted the deposition of a witness in the impeachment inquiry.

Thompson asked Irving to make unspecified moves to make the security protocol clear to all House members.

“As such, I am requesting you take action with respect to the members involved in the breach. More broadly, I urge you to take House-wide action to remind all members about the dangers of such reckless action and the potential national security risks of such behavior,” Thompson wrote.

The Hill reports:

Lawmakers typically use the SCIF to discuss sensitive information in a facility that is designed to be protected from foreign surveillance. Impeachment inquiry witness depositions have been taking place in the SCIF, which is located two levels below the basement in the Capitol Visitor Center.

At least 30 House Republicans entered the SCIF on Wednesday morning to demand access to the witness depositions, which are currently restricted to members of the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, and Oversight and Reform committees leading the impeachment inquiry.

The deposition of Laura Cooper, the deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, eventually began later Wednesday after a five-hour delay.

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), a member of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, said that he collected lawmakers’ phones and brought them outside the room in adherence with the protocol.

“You certainly want a secure environment, but at the same time I think everybody wants to hear exactly what’s going on,” Meadows told reporters.

Rep. Alex Mooney (R-W.Va.) shared audio of a phone call “live from the SCIF.”

Rep. Jackie Speier said “there should be some action taken to admonish” Republicans involved in today’s SCIF stunt.


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