Schiff Told Gaetz to ‘Absent Yourself’ During Heated Committee Meeting That Rep. Crashed

Updated: 2019-11-08 16:30:15

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) told Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) to “absent yourself” after Gaetz crashed a closed-door impeachment hearing in mid-October, a newly released transcript showed.

Schiff has been leading the impeachment despite the process traditionally being overseen by the House Judiciary Committee. The House Foreign Affairs Committee and the House Oversight Committee have also been involved with the inquiry.

Gaetz entered the room during the deposition of Fiona Hill, a former National Security Council, on Oct. 14, prompting Schiff to interject and say: “Excuse me, could we suspend?”

“Do we have any members here that are not members of the three committees authorized to be present? Mr. Gaetz, you’re not permitted to be in the room,” Schiff claimed.

“I am on the Judiciary Committee,” Gaetz said. Schiff responded: “Judiciary Committee is not a part of this hearing.”

“I thought the Judiciary Committee had jurisdiction over impeachment,” Gaetz asserted.

Schiff then ordered Gaetz to leave. “Mr. Gaetz, you’re not permitted to be in the room. Please leave,” he said.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio)—a member of the House Oversight Committee, who was moved onto the House Intelligence Committee on Nov. 8—then chimed in, saying: “Mr. Chairman, really?”

“Yes, really,” Schiff said.

“You’re going to include Members of Congress on committees that have roles of impeachment—” Gaetz said, before Schiff interrupted him, saying: “Mr. Gaetz, take your statement to the press. They do you no good here. So, please, absent yourself.”

matt gaetz
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, speaks to reporters outside of the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) during a closed-door impeachment hearing at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Oct. 30, 2019. (Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

“You’re going to have someone remove me from the hearing?” Gaetz wondered.

“You’re going to remove yourself, Mr. Gaetz,” Schiff said.

“Mr. Gaetz is going to stay and listen to the testimony,” Jordan said.

“Mr. Gaetz, you’re going to leave this room,” Schiff said.

Gaetz said he had a right to be in the room, challenging Schiff to cite a rule as to why he did not.

“You’re not a member of this committee. This is conducted in closed session. You’re not permitted to be here,” Schiff said.

When Gaetz said he was on the Judiciary Committee, Schiff told him: “Please absent yourself from the committee. It’s the ruling of the chair you’re not permitted to be here. Please leave the committee.”

Jordan said it wouldn’t hurt to have another member of Congress present, but Schiff insisted that Gaetz leave, prompting Gaetz to once again ask Schiff to name a rule.

“I am citing the House rules and the deposition rules. You are not permitted to be here,” Schiff said.

“Which rule?” Gaetz said.

“Mr. Gaetz, you are simply delaying the procedures in violation of the rules. Please absent yourself,” Schiff said.

“Which rule,” Gaetz repeated.

Schiff told him to leave again and said, “this dilatory tactic will come out of the minority’s time for questioning.”

Gaetz eventually left.

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber
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