Woman pretends to be wife of Republican congressman, crashes GOP retreat

UPDATE — 2/1, 9:47 a.m. EST: According to Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.), the identity of the woman who impersonated a lawmaker’s wife at last week’s GOP retreat has been revealed.

A source at a Tuesday closed-door meeting in Washington said Rep. McMorris Rodgers also acknowledged an investigation is being pursued by Capitol Police in conjunction with the Congressional Institute, which hosted the joint-conference in Philadelphia with House and Senate Republicans.

According to Institute President Mark Strand, the woman, who has been speculated is left-wing activist, spent nearly 12 hours on Thursday listening in on private meetings where GOP officials discussed public policy before being removed from the premises.

 

An unidentified woman pretended to be a Republican lawmaker’s wife and was able to sneak into a meeting at the GOP retreat hosted in Philadelphia on Thursday.

The woman attended the same event where secret audio recordings were taken and later leaked to the Washington Post and other news outlets. Although organizers investigating the leak did not directly say the impostor was the same one who recorded the audio, that was the assumption, according to AP.

Authorities are still trying to figure out the identity of the uninvited guest and tighten security measures so that a breach like this will not happen in the future. The woman apparently used fake credentials, and made it past several security check points before being asked to leave later in the evening.

If the woman is the same as the individual who recorded the audio, it means that an unauthorized, unidentified person was in the same room as Vice President Mike Pence and potentially President Trump as well.

In the leaked audio, GOP lawmakers can be heard discussing the ramifications of repealing Obamacare with or without a replacement plan. It is clear from the recordings that Republicans are worried that voters will retaliate at the polls in two years if they are not careful.

“We’d better be sure that we’re prepared to live with the market we’ve created” with repeal, said Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.). “That’s going to be called Trumpcare. Republicans will own that lock, stock and barrel, and we’ll be judged in the election less than two years away.”

The audio, while not particularly bombshell in nature, allows the American public to know what GOP lawmakers are actually thinking and their concerns about what a replacement healthcare system might look like. Despite Trump’s assurance that a new plan was almost finished, the audio tells a different story, as the Washington Post‘s Greg Sargent wrote:

To reiterate, it is useful to see Republicans wrestling with the fact that repeal (and replace) will bring major challenges and could produce a terrible outcome in humanitarian terms. But we have to ask: Given that Republicans have supposedly been preparing for the chance to repeal (and replace) the ACA for years, why do they seem so surprised by this?

Regardless, the audio is less surprising and more confirms what many already suspected: congressional Republicans are having a difficult time coming up with a viable replacement plan. What is surprising, however, is the ineffective security system in place that allowed some random person to rub elbows with a handful of the most powerful politicians in America.

 

[AP] [Washington Post] [The Hill] [Photo courtesy J. Scott Applewhite/AP via Minneapolis Star Tribune]