The chaotic scene in the bowels of the Capitol unfolded as Laura Cooper, a Defense Department official, was testifying. Just one day earlier, Mr. Trump had denounced the proceedings as “a lynching.” Now, Republicans were using the tactics of the civil rights movement to protest Democrats.
Republicans said that when they arrived, Mr. Schiff, chairman of the Intelligence Committee, quickly adjourned the meeting. One of the protesters, Representative Debbie Lesko, Republican of Arizona, said a female staff member for the committee initially blocked their entry into the interview area.
“When we kept demanding, asking who’s given authority to block us from getting in and they just said ‘Democratic leadership’ and nobody would come out of the hearing to tell us why,” she said.
Shortly before the Republicans kicked off their protest, they staged a news conference to denounce Democrats for limiting attendance at the hearings to members of the Intelligence, Judiciary and Foreign Affairs committees, which are leading the impeachment inquiry. Republicans at the news conference also demanded access to testimony transcripts. One by one, they hurled superlatives at the camera.
Representative Andy Biggs, Republican of Kentucky, called the inquiry a “Soviet-style impeachment process.” Representative Mark Walker, Republican of Georgia, called it the product of “an angry mob, a twisted media machine and a twisted version of an impeachment process.”
And Representative Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida, who led the group, proclaimed it a process of “secret interviews, selective leaks, weird theatrical performances of transcripts that never happened, and lies about contact with whistle-blowers.”
The comment was a reference to Mr. Schiff, who mocked Mr. Trump while reading a transcript of the president’s phone call with the leader of Ukraine, and who has said he misspoke when he said that he had not had any contact with the whistle-blower despite the whistle-blower having had approached Mr. Schiff’s intelligence committee for guidance before the inquiry began.
— Sheryl Gay Stolberg