‘Mob Scene’: House Intel Dem Joaquin Castro Takes CNN Viewers Inside the Secure Hearing Crashed By GOP
House Intelligence Committee member Joaquin Castro recounted the chaotic “mob scene” when dozens of Republicans improperly forced their way into the secured room where his committee was conducting a deposition in the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump.
During a circus-like stunt on Wednesday, a number of House Republicans stormed the secure, compartmentalized intelligence facility (SCIF) where the impeachment deposition of Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Lisa Cooper was taking place. According to House rules, members of Congress who are not part of the relevant committee are not allowed to enter during closed session.
“Quite honestly, it looked like a mob scene. It looked like kind of a mob party coming into that room,” Castro said, recounting the moment to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “We were getting ready for the deposition to start and we had had a Democratic caucus meeting just before that of the Intelligence members. We came into the room. Everybody was seated, and just as the witness sat down you had — of course, you had Democratic members already seated, Republicans that were seated. There are about 25 or 30 of the Republican members. It looked to me like it was all the guys. There may have been a few women but I didn’t see them. There are three entrances in that room and they all came kind of storming in. Most of them were not members of the committees, I think, of jurisdiction. They came storming in the room and started disrupting the proceeding. Shortly after that, I didn’t see when the witness left but she left at some point. I think her lawyers escorted her out of the room, but it was a very tense several minutes while everybody was in that room.”
In addition to disrupting the hearing, some of the Republicans were also seen carrying their own cell phones into the room, a move that jeopardizes the protected nature of the SCIF and directly violates federal law.
“Was it a risk to national security?” Blitzer asked of Castro.
“It absolutely is,” Castro said. “Whenever you’ve got a cell phone, particularly a member of Congress who’s often targeted by foreign governments, a foreign government with the right software or malware can basically take over your phone. So they can use your phone. They can listen in to what you’re saying. They can basically hijack the microphone in your phone. They can hijack the camera in your phone. So if you’ve got 15 or 20 cell phones in there because the members of Congress have taken those cell phones in, then potentially if any of those phones have been hijacked, the person who’s hijacked them can see whatever is in this facility. So that’s why I think for an hour or an hour and a half afterwards the security had to go and do a sweep of that secured facility. I don’t know that anybody’s ever brought 15 or 20 cell phones into that secured facility because there is all this classified information there.”
Watch the video above, via CNN.
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