Same House GOP that decried classified briefings boycotts public hearing as ‘publicity’ stunt

The idea that House Republicans were in any way compatible with a committee bearing the word "intelligence" in its name was always a stretch. Apparently, that reality has finally sunk in with the House GOP and its members sitting on the Intelligence Committee, who declared that they would boycott a public committee hearing Wednesday related to developing new methods of intelligence gathering. 

In a letter to House Intelligence chair Adam Schiff, Republican panel members accused Democrats of holding "publicity events" rather than conducting oversight. "Given this Committee's access to highly sensitive information, it is concerning that you prioritize publicity events rather than the more productive work that occurs in the Committee's classified spaces," wrote the panel's ranking member, Rep. Devin Nunes; the ranking member of the Strategic Technologies and Advanced Research Subcommittee, Rep. Chris Stewart; and the six other Republican members of the committee.

Those would be members of the very same GOP caucus that stormed a closed-door Intelligence Committee briefing last fall to review classified information related to the impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump. In fact, Rep. Stewart, who had opened the door that allowed a bunch of his unauthorized colleagues and cameras to enter the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF), threatened that House Republicans would continue such stunts unless Schiff allowed more transparency. 

“We have written (Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif.) a letter where we’re asking for him to quit restricting our ability to look at the transcripts and a number of other things,” Stewart said after about two dozen of his colleagues had marched through a door that said, “Restricted Area. No public or media access. Cameras or recording devices prohibited without proper authorization.”

But suddenly, the same Republicans who lobbied Schiff for more access and transparency now want to conduct all committee business in “classified spaces” where the “more productive work” happens. 

Really? Republicans fricking held a pizza party complete with cameras and recording devices in that secured area last fall in order to protest the "work that occurs in the committee’s classified spaces." Apparently, now that the impeachment inquiry is over, Republicans want to bury everything in the dark of night so the public will never know what's going on.

The subcommittee's chair, Democratic Rep. Jim Himes, bemoaned the tactics of his GOP counterparts during Wednesday’s hearing and apologized to the panel's witnesses for the lack of GOP participation, according to CNN

"Even as this committee was the epicenter of the polarizing impeachment debate, this committee has always succeeding compartmentalizing the emotions and arguments of impeachment from the critical work we do," Himes said. "Not so today, that Rubicon has been crossed."