WASHINGTON: Republican members of the US House of Representatives Intelligence Committee refused to attend a subcommittee hearing on technology and national security on Wednesday (Feb 12), boycotting the panel's first public hearing since the acrimonious impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.
Democratic Representative Jim Himes said he had received a letter on Wednesday morning saying the Republicans would not attend because they disagreed with the committee's priorities and calling the hearing "a publicity event."
Aides to Representatives Devin Nunes, the ranking Republican of the full Intelligence Committee, and Chris Stewart, ranking Republican on the Strategic Technology and Advanced Research Subcommittee, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The subcommittee hearing, with testimony from experts on intelligence and technology, addressed the relationship between the US intelligence community and the private sector as new technologies make their way into the marketplace.
Himes apologised to the witnesses and continued with the hearing. "We're going to make the best of it ... and do what we were hired to do by the American people," he said.
Voting nearly along party lines, the Republican-led Senate acquitted Trump of abusing his power and obstructing Congress' investigation on Feb 5.
The Republican president's Senate trial came after months of investigation in the Democratic-led House led by the intelligence committee. The panel's probe, both public hearings and closed-door testimony, was marked by angry partisan disputes between Republican members - who included some of Trump's closest allies in Congress - and Democrats.
The Democratic chairman of the intelligence committee, Representative Adam Schiff, was the lead impeachment manager during Trump's Senate trial. He is a frequent target of Trump's insults, both verbally and on Twitter.