Calling the House’s impeachment inquiry unfair to the President, White House counsel Pat Cipollone made a false claim about the closed-door House committee hearings at which witnesses were initially questioned.
The hearings were held in a secure room known as a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, or “SCIF.”
“Not even Mr. Schiff's Republican colleagues were allowed into the SCIF,” Cipollone said, referring to House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Adam Schiff, who is also the Democrats’ lead impeachment manager.
Facts First: As Schiff noted in his response to Cipollone, the 48 Republican members of the three committees holding the closed-door hearings — Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight — were indeed allowed into the SCIF, and they were given equal time to question witnesses.
Schiff said he would not suggest “Mr. Cipollone would deliberately make a false statement,” but he said, “I will tell you this: He's mistaken. He's mistaken." He added that Republicans were not only allowed in but “more than that: they got the same time we did."
Cipollone might have been referring to an October stunt in which Republicans who were not members of any of the three committees, along with some Republicans who were members, stormed the room to make a political point; the non-members were not allowed to be there, and they eventually left after causing a delay. But the members were allowed to be full participants in the proceedings.