- Rep. Adam Schiff called Rep. Matt Gaetz a "congressbro" over his crashing a deposition in 2019.
- Gaetz and a group of other Republicans stormed a secure facility being used to depose a witness.
- Eventually, after ordering pizza, Schiff wrote, "Gaetz and his confederates left the bunker."
Rep. Adam Schiff called GOP Rep. Gaetz a '"congressbro" and said "it was like spring break in there" when Gaetz and a group of his Republican colleagues stormed a secure bunker used to handle classified information in the fall of 2019.
The congressman recounts the incident in his new memoir "Midnight in Washington."
In October 2019, a group of about 30 Republicans, reportedly with former President Donald Trump's blessing, caused a scene deep in the bowels of the Capitol by storming in and occupying the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF).
Schiff, the chairman of the powerful House Intelligence Committee, was using the facility to depose Laura Cooper, a deputy assistant secretary at the Department of Defense, as part of its impeachment probe investigating Trump and his dealings with Ukraine.
It followed a separate incident earlier where Gaetz had crashed the closed-door deposition of National Security Council official Fiona Hill, arguing that he should be let in due to his membership on the House Judiciary Committee. Schiff issued a stern warning to Gaetz to "please, absent yourself," saying, "you're going to remove yourself" when Gaetz asked if he would be removed.
Gaetz's office did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment on Schiff's characterization of events in the book.
"Interestingly," Schiff wrote, "some of the crashers were members of the three committees, but they didn't seem to be aware that they didn't need to crash the proceedings - they could have simply walked through the door. But I could tell they were interested in a brawl, in making a circus of the proceedings, and I wouldn't let them."
The GOP lawmakers brought their cell phones into the room to live-tweet and livestream the stampede on social media, a serious breach of SCOF protocol that posed major national security and cybersecurity risks. They also ordered food to the room.
"It was like spring break in there, and the rebels soon ordered pizza, but the violation of the security of the space where we keep some of the nation's most closely guarded secrets was no joke," Schiff wrote.
The then-House sergeant at arms had to get involved over the security breaches and following the incursion, Capitol Police had to sweep the room for electronic devices.
Instead of calling in the Capitol Police to forcibly remove the deposition crashers or canceling it altogether, which Schiff thought would give in to what they wanted, the congressman went back to his office in the hopes that they would tire themselves out.
Freedom Caucus leader and then-Rep. Mark Meadows approached Schiff in his office to register his complaints with the process and try to come to a resolution, which went off the rails when Meadows called the intelligence committee's general counsel Maher Bitar "a smart-ass," Schiff said.
"Embarrassed, Meadows apologized to Bitar, and the fight went out of him," Schiff wrote.
At that point, Schiff and his staff had the idea to ask House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to schedule votes on the floor to get the group, which had by then delayed the deposition by several hours, out of the basement.
"Not long thereafter, bored and stuffed with pizza, Gaetz and his confederates left the bunker to vote and never bothered to come back," Schiff wrote.