U.S. Rep. Michael Cloud and his some of his fellow Republicans entered a closed-door presidential impeachment hearing on Wednesday and disrupted the proceedings.
“Everybody, I’m standing right outside the doors to the hallway that leads to the SCIF, the famous classified room in the bottom of the basement that you keep hearing about, where all these meetings are happening regarding the investigation of the president,” said Cloud in a video he shared on Facebook.
On Friday, Cloud said during an interview that the public is only getting information about the impeachment process from information that has been selectively leaked to the media. He said the testimony that has been released has been chosen to fit the impeachment narrative.
“All the information that’s presented is not classified, but it’s being held in a classified setting so that they can use rules to threaten the minority (party) with ethics violations if any information leaks,” he said.
Cloud supported other Republican congressional members who defied protocols by entering a secure briefing room known as the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, or SCIF. At the time, House representatives were conducting a closed-door impeachment hearing in which they were to depose Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper.
For hours, about 30 Republican representatives who were not members of the six congressional committees allowed access disrupted the hearing.
“The American people are not getting the full story,” Cloud said. “You’ll see opening statements leaked to the press, but you won’t hear the answers to the questioning that refute that testimony.”
Those hearings were scheduled as part of an impeachment inquiry looking into President Donald Trump’s conduct regarding Ukraine and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.
“Today, when they entered the room, Rep. (Adam) Schiff immediately left with the key witness, refusing access to Republican members. Congressman Cloud is still there with the other members, demanding a transparent process,” states a Facebook post by Cloud’s office published at 12:18 p.m. Wednesday.
Cloud also said he has had trouble accessing information. As a member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Cloud is allowed to attend impeachment hearings and access information. However, he said he can’t access the transcript of Kurt Volker, the U.S. diplomat to NATO who testified while Cloud was in Texas.
The lack of transparency, he said, also hurts the representatives who are expected to vote on impeachment, which Cloud said isn’t supported by current information. He said the hearings he has attended so far have been disappointing “fishing expeditions” for evidence.
“This process has the verdict in mind,” he said. “That’s not what our American republic was founded on. We’re supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, not the other way around.”
Victoria County Democratic Chairwoman Pat Tally was critical of Cloud’s perspective and the Republican representatives who entered the hearing.
“It’s based on a whole untrue premise,” she said, describing the events as a publicity stunt, adding, “It was stupid.”
She not only noted that Cloud and other Republicans have had access to the hearings, but also said that secrecy is appropriate at this stage in the inquiry.
“I don’t think it should be open to anyone who wants to come in,” she said. “These witnesses are putting their lives and careers on the line.”
She also pointed out that the Constitution gives wide leeway to the House of Representatives in how to handle impeachment.
While Tally said she doesn’t mind Cloud disagreeing, she was disappointed by his support for the Republicans who defied rules to enter the hearing.
“This is not a Democratic hearing. This is the U.S. Congress. There are Republicans there,” she said.