Hours after dozens of House Republicans literally stormed the closed-door witness deposition of Pentagon official Laura Cooper, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL)—the ringleader of Wednesday’s plan to derail the impeachment inquiry—defended his actions by calling Democrats “rabid hyenas” and claiming there are “no rules” when dealing with them.
Appearing on Fox’s Tucker Carlson Tonight, Gaetz was asked what the purpose was of barging into a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF), a move that ultimately delayed Cooper’s testimony by five hours.
“We had the audacity to want to know what was going on behind closed doors where Democrats have engaged in a strategy of secret interviews, selective leaks, theatrical, weird performances of transcripts that never happened and lies about whistleblowers,” Gaetz declared. “It’s reasonable to suggest we would want more transparency on behalf of the millions of people we represent.”
Fox host Tucker Carlson, meanwhile, asked whether Gaetz and his colleagues have a right under congressional rules to demand more transparency.
“There are no rules,” the Florida lawmaker exclaimed. “If we had rules, Nancy Pelosi would have put this to a vote like established rules that happened with President Clinton, like happened with President Nixon.”
“The Democrats want to preserve the most, like, operational flexibility,” he added. “So if they’re going to have a world with no rules, we have to stop thinking we can use the Marquis of Queensberry rules of engagement when we’re fighting against an angry pack of rabid hyenas. I think the president is right. As Republicans, we need to be tougher in exposing this for the kangaroo court that it is.”
While Gaetz and other GOP congressmen took a victory lap on Fox News Wednesday night, however, new reporting suggests that rather than this being a principled stand for transparency, the entire thing was a made-for-TV publicity stunt.
It was reported that besides GOP leadership blessing the plan to storm the SCIF—which featured a number of congressmen bringing in their cell phones, which is not allowed—the president himself had advance knowledge of the protest and endorsed it. In recent days, Trump has grown visibly angry that Republicans on Capitol Hill aren’t doing enough to defend him.
Elsewhere on Fox News, host and Trump confidant Sean Hannity brought on both House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and two congressmen who took part in the protest—Reps. Michael Waltz and Lee Zeldin—and urged all of them to keep up the protests.
“I think you should do this every day,” Hannity said.
As Hannity was giving the game away on the air, one of his colleagues was reporting elsewhere that the whole thing was essentially a play by House Republicans to get a dramatic TV moment.
“Fox is told there was never any chance mbrs who barged into SCIF would be arrested by USCP,” Fox News reporter Chad Pergram tweeted. “But some members asked to be arrested. They wanted the optic of being frog marched out of the SCIF in front of TV cameras. That would help w/GOP narrative of Dem process abuse.”
Pergram also said his sources noted that there really wasn’t anything security officials could do in the end, adding that there’s no “real punishment for breaking the rules” as House members are just “expected to adhere to the rules.”