A Congresswoman from the Ozarks was among several Republican House members who disrupted the impeachment inquiry proceedings Wednesday demanding more transparency. Lawmakers are investigating President Donald Trump’s political dealings in Ukraine as part of an impeachment inquiry.
Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler of Missouri’s Fourth district, which covers areas to the east, west, and north of Greene County, was among several dozen Republicans who entered the secure area in the Capitol, arguing that the proceedings should be public.
She spoke to reporters, then shared the video of her comments to her Twitter feed.
“They want to continue America on this terrible road for impeaching our president on something that he hasn’t even been indicted on, or found guilty of,” Hartlzer told reporters in the Capitol building.
A spokesman for Hartzler’s office told KSMU the Congresswoman did not take a recording device into the secure area like some lawmakers did. The Capitol’s highly protected SCIF, or Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, has a rule prohibiting cameras and other recording devices for security purposes.
Hartzler and other Republicans have been critical of House Democrats leading the investigation for holding the committee meetings behind closed doors. Some Republicans sit on those committees, and those select Republicans are allowed to hear the interviews and depositions.
But Hartzler said that’s not enough, and that the lack of transparency is leading to a lopsided story for the American people.
“My colleagues on this committee can’t even bring their own witnesses back. And they can’t even speak about what is going on in there. Yet the Democrats come out and they tell what is going on. They leak certain quotes that they select to create a narrative that they want to control,” Hartlzer said.
Democratic lawmakers have argued that the early interviews need to be private to prevent witnesses from coordinating testimony—and that there will be public hearings soon. Committee hearings can be closed to non-committee members, according to House rules and precedent, if the situation meets certain criteria, like national security concerns.
At a White House cabinet meeting Monday, two days before the lawmakers entered the SCIF, President Trump urged Congressional Republicans to support him more ardently in the impeachment investigation process.
Harzer’s challenger in the 2020 election, Lindsey Simmons, released a statement Thursday calling Hartzler’s actions “partisan theatrics” that undermined security efforts, adding that Hartzler does not appear to understand the impeachment process.
Simmons is a Harvard Law School graduate and military spouse running as a Democrat.
As for the other House members from the Ozarks, Congressman Billy Long of Missouri’s seventh district, which includes Springfield and Joplin, was not among the Republicans who disrupted the meeting.
And neither was Congressman Jason Smith of Missouri’s eighth district, which covers south-central and southeast Missouri. A spokesman for Smith’s office said he was in a Ways and Means Committee meeting at the time. The spokesman added that even though Ways and Means is one of the committees designated to take part in the impeachment investigations, Smith and his committee have not yet been allowed to participate in the hearings.
The Republicans who marched into the secure area uninvited were led by a Congressman from Florida who sent out a media advisory before the disruption telling news outlets precisely where they should set up their cameras.