As witnesses testified in the House investigation, reporters and cameras staked out the closed-door sessions that stretched on for hours. House Republicans decided to take advantage of the ready-made media to stage an event to highlight what they characterized as a secretive star chamber.
The night before the protest on Oct. 23, Trump hosted some of his most fervent loyalists at the White House. His message: Fight harder, something Republicans were also hearing back home from pro-Trump constituents.
The next day, they gave Trump the sort of televised spectacle he craves. Scalise led the protest outside the facility’s locked doors, which was initially planned as little more than a raucous news conference. But things quickly escalated when the doors opened and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) barged in, leading a parade of unauthorized lawmakers, some holding cellphones, into the conference room where Pentagon official Laura Cooper was about to be questioned about the hold on military aid to Ukraine.
The stunt had clearly violated House rules, but it stole the spotlight from Democrats and dominated cable news and headlines that day — showing GOP leaders that they had the ability to knock Democrats off their game.