Today, we were supposed to have a deposition by Pentagon official Laura Cooper about how Trump delayed military aid to the Ukraine unless President Volodymyr Zelensksy announced a corruption investigation into Hunter Biden.
Laura Cooper -- the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia -- is set to appear even though the Defense Department told Congress that it would not comply with a House subpoena to provide documents related to the freezing of US security aid to Ukraine.
Cooper is currently believed to be voluntarily appearing before the three House committees leading the Democratic impeachment inquiry and the Pentagon has not yet sought to block her testimony. She will be accompanied by a personal lawyer, according to defense officials.
As a top official overseeing US policy towards Ukraine, Cooper would have been involved with overseeing US military assistance to Kiev, assistance such as the $250 million aid package that was frozen by the Trump Administration despite the Pentagon's recommendation that it go forward.
What motivated the White House to order that freeze has formed a central part of the impeachment inquiry into Trump.
And I say supposed to hear from Cooper because a couple dozen House Republicans, led by Rep. Matt Gaetz, stormed the hearing in a banana republic playbook move ordered by Donald Trump.
A protest by a group of Republican lawmakers temporarily put on hold the impeachment hearing testimony of a Pentagon official who oversaw military assistance to Ukraine.
About two dozen GOP House members, who are objecting to the closed-door hearings led by Democrats, barged into the secure hearing room, some of them “shouting, screaming” at the “injustice being done to the president,” said Democratic Representative Gerald Connolly, a member of the Oversight panel.
“It’s like a protest movement,” said Lacy Clay of Missouri, a Democrat on the Oversight Committee, who likened the protest to a sit-in and said the GOP members remained inside.
Only members of the three House committees -- Democrats and Republicans -- are allowed in the “sensitive compartmented information facility,” known as a SCIF. Access is limited to people with security clearances to discuss classified material that isn’t open to public view.
“We kept demanding they let us in, and they said no,” said Representative Debbie Lesko, an Arizona Republican.
Republicans have repeatedly complained that the closed-door hearings are unfair to Trump. House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff has said that following the initial investigation stage, he plans to call some of the witnesses back for public hearings.
Connolly said the Republicans entered the secure area and walked into the room where a Pentagon official, Laura Cooper, was scheduled to testify. The GOP members were carrying electronic devices, which are barred from the secure area, he said.
“That SCIF is used by Congress for a lot of highly classified purposes. To compromise that to make a point is deeply troubling,” said Connolly. “They literally stormed the door when it was open.”
To recap, House Republicans broke the law by doing this. And of course, Donald Trump blessed the move and coordinated it with House GOP minority leader Kevin McCarthy.
Trump had advance knowledge and supported a protest by Republicans who told him they planned to barge into a secure hearing room on Capitol Hill where Democrats are holding impeachment testimonies, according to four people familiar with the matter.
Trump on Tuesday met with about 30 House Republicans at the White House to talk about the situation in Syria and the impeachment inquiry. During a nearly two-hour meeting, which focused mostly on the impeachment inquiry, lawmakers shared their plans to storm into the secure room, the people said. Trump supported the action, saying he wanted the transcripts released because they will exonerate him, the people said.
So Cooper's deposition has been delayed for who knows how long, Trump basically ordered literal obstruction of justice by disrupting legal testimony against him, and Republicans now know they can bring everything to a crashing halt. And all this happened as Nancy Pelosi was in Baltimore for her older brother Tommy's funeral.
If you had any doubts that yesterday's testimony from Bill Taylor was the smoking impeachment gun, this response proves it was. Democrats say they will continue the deposition later today, so we'll see what the Insane Clown Caucus does in response.