Fact-checking a claim Pelosi ‘takes responsibility’ for not calling National Guard on Jan. 6, 2021 - Poynter (2024)

Newly released video footage from Jan. 6, 2021, has reignited conservatives’ long-standing claims that then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi bears the blame for the National Guard’s delayed response to the U.S. Capitol attack.

On June 10, Republicans on the House Administration’s Subcommittee on Oversight shared on X ashort videoof Pelosi leaving the Capitol by car as rioters overtook the building Jan. 6. In the clip, Pelosi presses her chief of staff Terri McCullough about why the National Guard hadn’t arrived yet.

The subcommittee’s Xpostsaid, “Since January 6, 2021, Nancy Pelosi spent 3+ years and nearly $20 million creating a narrative to blame Donald Trump. NEW FOOTAGE shows on January 6, Pelosi ADMITTED: ‘I take responsibility.’”

SocialmediausersacrossX,Instagram,FacebookandTikTokresharedthe footage and made a slightly different claim: that the video shows Pelosi, D-Calif., saying “she takes responsibility for not having the National Guard” at the Capitol that day.

The Instagram and Facebook posts were flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about ourpartnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.) The TikTok posts were identified as part of TikTok’s efforts to counter inauthentic, misleading or false content. (Read moreabout PolitiFact’s partnership with TikTok.)

No member of Congress has the authority to activate the District of Columbia National Guard. Only thepresident, Defense secretary and U.S. Army secretarydo.

In response to the newly released footage, Pelosi said in a June 10MSNBC interviewthat former President Donald Trump and “his toadies do not want to face the facts. They’re trying to do revisionist history.”

Aaron Bennett, Pelosi’s spokesperson, told PolitiFact in a statement that Jan. 6, 2021, footage in its entirety shows Pelosi called Pentagon officials who can authorize use of the National Guard and urged them to deploy the guard.

“Cherry-picked, out-of-context clips do not change the fact that the Speaker of the House is not in charge of the security of the Capitol Complex — on January 6th or any other day of the week,” Bennett said.

As part of Republican efforts to reinvestigate the Jan. 6, 2021, attack, the Oversight Subcommittee obtained 45 minutes of footage from HBO that Alexandra Pelosi, a documentary filmmaker and Nancy Pelosi’s daughter, had filmed, PoliticoreportedJune 9. Politico reviewed the footage and said much of it had never been seen before; the news outlet did not say how it obtained the footage, which the Oversight Subcommittee has not publicly released in full.

The subcommittee shared on Xtwoversionsof the same Jan. 6, 2021, scene of Pelosi leaving the Capitol by car.

Thefirst clip, which is 41 seconds long, has been more widely shared online than thesecond clip, which is 1 minute and 28 seconds long. The subcommitteedescribedthe longer clip as “the full video” on X.

The longer clip begins with Pelosi talking about Capitol security officials’ guidance to congressional members: “I mean, we asked them to put out a piece of paper saying, you know, ‘Go through the tunnel, don’t go outside.’ They say they got stuff, but they can’t tell us what it is. It’s too — they don’t want the other side to know.”

The 41-second clip doesn’t include this. It begins when Pelosi says, “We have responsibility, Terri. We did not have any accountability for what was going on there, and we should have. This is ridiculous. You’re going to ask me in the middle of the thing — when they’ve already breached the inaugural stuff — ‘Should we call the Capitol Police?’ I mean, ‘the National Guard?’ Why weren’t the National Guard there to begin with?”

McCullough begins to reply that Capitol security officials thought that they had “sufficient resources” before Pelosi interrupts.

“There’s not a question of how they — they don’t know. They clearly didn’t know, and I take responsibility for not having them just prepare for more,” Pelosi said.

This is where the 41-second clip ends.

In the longer clip, Pelosi continues, “Because it’s stupid that we should be in a situation like this. Because they thought they had what? They thought these people would act civilized? They thought these people gave a damn? What is it that is missing here, in terms of anticipation? They give us a piece of paper. It says, ‘Walk through the tunnel, don’t walk outside.’ That’s our preparation for what’s going on?”

PolitiFactandothernewsoutletshave previously fact-checked false and misleading claims related to Pelosi’s role on Jan. 6, 2021, including thatthe former House speaker was culpable for the attack, thatshe was responsible for Capitol security that day, and thatfootage of Pelosi on Jan. 6, 2021,proves the attack was staged.

There’s ample evidence that Pelosi was a target of the attack and no evidence that she was responsible for the event or that the attack was contrived.

As House speaker, Pelosi shared responsibility for Capitol security. The House and Senate sergeants-at-arms, who report to the House speaker and Senate majority leader, respectively, serve as the Capitol’s chief law enforcement officers. The two sergeants-at-arms, along with the Senate doorkeeper and the Capitol architect, comprise theboardthat oversees the Capitol Police.

The U.S. president, defense secretary and U.S. Army secretary are the only peopleauthorized to activatethe District of Columbia National Guard. The House select committee on Jan. 6, after its 18-month-long investigation,concludedthat official records and witness testimony showed Trump didn’t make that order Jan. 6, 2021.

On the day of the Capitol attack, Paul Irving, then-House sergeant-at-arms, first asked Pelosi’s chief of staff for permission to contact the Pentagon for National Guard support at 1:40 p.m. — about 30 minutes after rioters had broken through the barricades surrounding the Capitol. A few minutes later, Pelosi approved Irving’s request. But because ofdelayed approvalfrom Pentagon officials, National Guard troops didn’t arrive at the Capitol for another four hours,The New York Timesreported.

Previously released footageshowsPelosi and then-Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., after they evacuated the Capitol, negotiating with government officials to deploy the National Guard. (Schumer wassworn inas Senate majority leader on Jan. 20, 2021.)

Also, MSNBCairedJune 10 other clips, which the network said it obtained from “congressional sources,” of Pelosi and Schumer discussing the National Guard’s delayed deployment Jan. 6, 2021.

One clip showed Schumer on the telephone with then-Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy demanding to know why the National Guard had not yet been deployed. Pelosi is seen beside Schumer talking on the phone.

In another clip, Pelosi tells then-Vice President Mike Pence, “And we were disappointed that the fact that it took so long to approve the National Guard. But I’m glad to hear that that’s at least moving.”

Politicoreportedthat these clips of Schumer and Pelosi were part of the 45 minutes of footage that HBO sent to the Oversight Subcommittee. The subcommittee has not shared these clips on its website or social media accounts.

“The new footage does not bolster GOP claims of Pelosi being at fault,” Politicoreported. “Instead, it largely aligns with and adds depth to previous snippets of Alexandra Pelosi’s footage released by the Jan. 6 select committee and in an HBO documentary that was released in 2022.”

Social media users said a video shows Pelosi “takes responsibility for not having the National Guard” at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

In the video, Pelosi said, “I take responsibility for not having them just prepare for more,” when talking about U.S. Capitol security. As then-House speaker, Pelosi did not have the authority to deploy the National Guard. The president, defense secretary and U.S. Army secretary are the only people authorized to deploy the District of Columbia National Guard.

Records show that Pelosi approved a request to contact the Pentagon for help getting National Guard troops to the Capitol as rioters laid siege.

We rate the statement False.

This fact check was originally published by PolitiFact, which is part of the Poynter Institute. See the sources for this fact check here.

Fact-checking a claim Pelosi ‘takes responsibility’ for not calling National Guard on Jan. 6, 2021 - Poynter (2024)
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