When House Democrats’ Jan. 6 committee convened its investigative hearings, members proclaimed there was no need to investigate House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s role because she wasn’t involved in Capitol security and their end goal was to find the truth no matter where it led.
“We must confront the truth with candor, resolve, and determination,” Chairman Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat, declared on opening day of the public hearings.
Some Republicans, such as House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (N.Y.) and Rep. Rodney Davis (Ill.), House Administration Committee ranking member, have argued that Pelosi could have ordered enhanced security for the Capitol complex ahead of the planned Jan. 6, 2021 “Stop the Steal” rally but did not.
“On January 6th, the Speaker, a target of an assassination attempt that day, was no more in charge of Capitol security than Mitch McConnell was,” a spokesperson for Pelosi told FactCheck.org. “This is a clear attempt to whitewash what happened on January 6th and divert blame. The Speaker believes security officials should make security decisions.”
On Thursday, with what the committee proclaimed was their final public hearing, they managed to undercut both those talking points.
First, they belatedly decided to subpoena the central character in their Jan. 6 narrative, Donald Trump, an act that comes as the committee plans no further hearings and will sunset after the Christmas holidays. The compressed timeline makes it difficult to get the former president’s full side of his story should he decide to testify.
Second, the committee showed compelling video of Pelosi commanding the security apparatus of the U.S. Capitol complex as it was under siege by rioters, directing resources, calling the Pentagon and soliciting police from neighboring Virginia. The footage clearly contradicts Pelosi’s earlier claim she had nothing to do with Capitol security.
“I have no power over the Capitol Police,” she said in February 2022. “Does anybody not know that?”
Politifact, the fact-checking website, concluded that Pelosi does in fact have some shared responsibility for security with the Senate majority leader, because they each supervise their respective sergeant-at-arms.
“Capitol security is provided by the sergeants-at-arms, who are the chief law enforcement officers for the House and Senate, in coordination with the Capitol Police, a federal law enforcement agency,” Politifact reported. “The House sergeant-at-arms reports to the speaker of the House, or Pelosi at the time of the attack. The Senate sergeant-at-arms reports to the Senate majority leader; in the days leading up to and including Jan. 6, that was Kentucky Republican Mitch McConnell.”