After congressional Republicans stormed a closed-door House Intelligence Committee impeachment hearing Wednesday morning, committee member Rep. Joaquin Castro, a Democrat, hopped over to CNN to complain about their allegedly “mob” behavior.
“We were getting ready for the deposition to start, and we had had a Democratic caucus meeting just before that of the Intelligence members,” he said to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that evening, recounting the unprecedented events that’d transpired earlier that day.
“We came into the room, everybody was seated and just as the witness sat down, you had — of course, you had Democratic members already seated, Republicans that were seated — there were about 25 or 30 of the Republican members. It looked to me like it was all the guys. There may have been a few women, but I didn’t see them.”
Castro’s bizarre decision to cite the gender makeup of the “mob” likely stemmed from Democrats’ obsession with identity politics. But to be clear, video footage from the event shows what appear to be women (appearances can admittedly be deceiving) as well as men storming the closed-door hearing.
(Source: Scott Thuman of WJLA)
“There are three entrances in that room, and they all came kind of storming in,” Castro continued. “Most of them were not members of the committees, I think, of jurisdiction. They came storming in the room and started disrupting the proceeding.”
“Shortly after that, I didn’t see when the witness left, but she left at some point. I think her lawyers escorted her out of the room, but it was a very tense several minutes while everybody was in that room.”
“Quite honestly, it looked like a mob scene. It looked like kind of a mob party coming into that room,” he added.
When then asked by Blitzer whether the Republicans’ behavior “was a risk to national security,” Castro claimed the answer to be yes.
“It absolutely is,” he argued. “The reason that’s the case is because this is a secured facility where a lot of classified information is kept.”
He then proceeded to weave a conspiracy theory about foreign operatives (Russians perhaps?) hacking the Republicans’ phones and then using the phones’ cameras and microphones to spy on America.
“And so whenever you’ve got a cell phone — particularly a member of Congress who’s often targeted by foreign governments — a foreign government with the right software or malware can basically take over your phone. So they can use your phone,” he said.
It’s not clear what he meant by “a member of Congress who’s often targeted by foreign governments” …
“They can listen in to what you’re saying,” he continued. “They can basically hijack the microphone on your phone. They can hijack the camera on your phone. So if you’ve got 15 or 20 cell phones in there because the members of Congress have taken those cell phones in, then potentially if any of those phones have been hijacked, the person who’s hijacked them can see whatever is in this facility.”
“So that’s why I think for an hour or an hour and a half afterward, the security had to go and do a sweep of that secured facility. I don’t know that anybody’s ever brought 15 or 20 cell phones into that secured facility because there is all this classified information there.”
The room where the hearing occurred is known as a “Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility,” or SCIF for short.
SCIFs are used when Congress is dealing with classified information. The problem is that Wednesday’s hearing reportedly involved no classified information whatsoever.
“Folks, there’s nothing classified going on here!” conservative radio show host Rush Limbaugh argued during his program Wednesday. “There is no testimony that’s classified. None of Hillary Clinton’s emails are being discussed. There’s nothing classified. They open each of these hearings by saying that nothing’s classified.”
“There’s no reason for this to be happening at all other than the illusion that [House Intelligence Committee chair Adam] Schiff is attempting to create here. Now they’re having to bring everything to a screeching halt because Republicans took cell phones in there?”
This assessment is backed by Jim Hanson, a former U.S. Army Special Forces soldier who now serves as the president of the Security Studies Group:
There was nothing classified happening, they were abusing the SCIF to hide their partisan shenanigans https://t.co/62ToI36Eih
— Jim Hanson (@JimHansonDC) October 24, 2019
Castro concluded his discussion with Blitzer by maintaining that Republicans should have known better than to bring their cellphones into the SCIF.
“I think all members of Congress know that when you’re going to a classified area, that you’re supposed to leave your cell phone behind,” he said. “For example, when we have member briefings on Iran or Afghanistan or some other intelligence issue, we all have to leave our phones behind. Then we go into the auditorium and get the briefing.”
“Instead, for whatever reason, these folks ignored that protocol and went right in with their cell phones. If this was somebody else, if it was somebody else that purposely walked in there with their cell phone, there would be severe consequences for that.”
History shows that this isn’t necessarily so.
After former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was busted “covertly copying classified information from a SCIF and then retransmitting that information over insecure channels on unapproved systems,” she received … “a verbal scolding,” as noted by National Review contributor Will Collier.
Not to mention a lifetime of free defense by the mainstream media.