Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Wednesday walked back an initial rebuke of the GOP congressman who stormed a closed-door hearing earlier in the day to protest the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, first calling the move “nuts” before saying he changed his mind after learning that it had been a “peaceful protest.”
“CORRECTION: I was initially told House GOP took the SCIF by force – basically like a GOP version of Occupy Wall Street,” Graham tweeted. “Apparently it was a peaceful protest. Big difference. I understand their frustration and they have good reason to be upset.”
I was initially told House GOP took the SCIF by force – basically like a GOP version of Occupy Wall Street.
Apparently it was a peaceful protest. Big difference.
I understand their frustration and they have good reason to be upset. https://t.co/39GLwGgrPq
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) October 23, 2019
Graham had originally voiced criticism of the move by the GOP House members, telling The Associated Press, “That’s not the way to do it. That’s nuts.”
Dozens of Republican members of the House, including some members of leadership like House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), barged into the secure hearing room in the Capitol basement, delaying the testimony of Laura Cooper, the deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia.
South Carolina Sen. @LindseyGrahamSC not a fan of the House GOP sit-in protest that has disrupted impeachment depositions today.
“They’re making a run in the SCIF! That’s not the way to do it. That’s nuts”
— Lindsay Wise (@lindsaywise) October 23, 2019
Graham also told the AP he didn’t like the process being behind closed doors and said transcripts should be made available from any impeachment inquiry interviews, according to the AP.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) reportedly responded to the Republicans entering the sensitive compartment information facility (SCIF) by exiting the room with the witness.
Some GOP lawmakers also brought cell phones into the SCIF, which is against the rules, and refused to leave.
Republicans have called out the Democrats for only allowing members of the House Intelligence, Oversight and Reform and Foreign Affairs committees to be present during testimonies involved in their impeachment inquiry and have requested the transcripts from these hearings be accessible for all members.
Graham has been a staunch defender of the president as the impeachment inquiry unfolds, agreeing with Trump on Tuesday that it was appropriate to call the process a “lynching.”
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) launched the impeachment inquiry in response to a whistleblower report that said President Trump pressed the Ukrainian president to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his family’s dealings with the country.
This report was updated with Graham’s additional comments at 4:59 p.m.