Enlarge / The US House of Representatives.Wally Gobetz / Flickr

On Wednesday, Republican lawmakers committed a major breach of security when they carried cell phones as they tried to storm a secure room where a closed-door impeachment hearing with a Defense Department official was taking place.

At least one House member, Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, got inside the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) in the basement of the House of Representatives. Despite strict rules barring all electronics inside such closed-off areas, Gaetz openly tweeted: "BREAKING: I led over 30 of my colleagues into the SCIF where Adam Schiff is holding secret impeachment depositions. Still inside—more details to come."

BREAKING: I led over 30 of my colleagues into the SCIF where Adam Schiff is holding secret impeachment depositions. Still inside – more details to come. https://t.co/fHhqkZ6x3Z

— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) October 23, 2019

A picture published by The New York Times showed a man identified as a House Republican holding up his phone as if taking pictures or video as he entered the secure room. A sign on the door of the room said, "Cameras and other recording devices prohibited without proper authorization." The room has lockers outside the doors where people are required to store electronics before entering.

Lawyers said bringing phones into the secure area was a potential felony. Security officials, meanwhile, stressed how damaging the move could be to national security. The SCIF is designed to prevent electronic eavesdropping so members of Congress can receive sensitive information that is often classified. Often, the materials in the room reveal sensitive operations or show how intelligence officers collect information on adversaries. SCIFs are carefully controlled to prevent electronic signals or electronic devices from leaving the rooms. Chief among these restrictions is no unauthorized electronic devices.

Rep. Mark Walker of North Carolina also issued a tweet that said he was "in the SCIF."

Compromising national security

Cell phones in particular are known to be a risk since it's easily within the means of a nation to infect both iOS and Android devices with full-featured spyware. From then on, the hackers can make the devices record audio and video, take pictures and download and upload files. Lawmakers are particularly prone to such attacks given the large amount of sensitive data they often have access to.

"Storming the SCIF without respecting the security protocols that require people to leave their electronic devices *outside* the space is actually compromising our national security," Mieke Eoyang, who regularly used the room while she was a former staffer for several security-related congressional committees, wrote on Twitter. "Bringing electronic devices into a SCIF, and this SCIF in particular, is *very* problematic, especially when done by members of Congress."

The event has parallels to a covertly made recording in the White House situation room last year by then-Trump administration staffer Omarosa Manigault Newman.

Wednesday's event occurred as members of the House Intelligence Committee were preparing to hear from Laura K. Cooper, the deputy assistaRead More – Source