Pelosi Admits Fault for the Lack of Security Precautions on January 6th – JONATHAN TURLEY

For years, some of us have asked why the Capitol was so poorly prepared for the January 6th riot. As part of the coverage on that day, I remarked at the start of the protests that I had never seen the Capitol so thinly protected for a major demonstration. Some paths to the Capitol were protected by a handful of bicycle officers and thin barriers. Now, a previously-unreleased video taken on Jan. 6, 2021 shows then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., admitting that she was responsible for the lack of preparedness.

The video was disclosed in a posting on X by a House Republican panel.  The video shows Pelosi in an exchange with Chief of Staff Terri McCullough on the evacuation. Pelosi states:

“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…that, should we call the Capitol Police? I mean the National Guard? Why weren’t the National Guard there to begin with?…They clearly didn’t know, and I take responsibility for not having them just prepared for more.”

The video was never released by the J6 Committee, which was criticized for its highly choreographed and scripted hearings with little balance in the presentation of evidence. The lack of emphasis on the security issues was glaring and raised by critics throughout the hearings.

While Democrats and the media dismissed the issue and claims that Trump offered to supply the national guard, it was later confirmed that those offers were made to Congress and rejected. A report from Capitol Police Inspector General Michael Bolton also found that Capitol police were told that they could not use critical riot materials and tactics in preparation for the Jan. 6th protests.

What was so curious about the lack of precautions that morning is that the Capitol had just experienced the violence outside of the White House in the Lafayette Park protests.

To this day, the media and many members continue to repeat false accounts of the Lafayette Park. Many still have stories posted that claim that Lafayette Park was cleared for Trump to hold a photo op in front of a church. I discussed those accounts in testimony before Congress and in columns on the clearing of the Lafayette Park area. NPR still has a story on its website entitled “Peaceful Protesters Tear-Gassed To Clear Way For Trump Church Photo-Op.” More officers were injured in the Lafayette Park protests than on January 6th.

As previously discussed in repeated columns, the House Democratic leadership refused to hold a single hearing with key witnesses on what occurred before the riot. After using a “snap impeachment,” weeks went by without calling such witnesses before the Trump impeachment trial. Such evidence would have challenged the narrative and raised questions over decisions made by Congress that left the Capitol vulnerable to such an attack.

In the Lafayette Park protests, White House officials feared that the compound could be breached by violent protesters who had injured dozens of officers and engaged in arson and attacks around the White House during that weekend. They decided to clear the area to install fencing (which Congress only ordered after the Jan. 6th riot). They also deployed the National Guard and the “heavier, less lethal weapons” that the Inspector General found were denied to the Capitol Police.

Had Pelosi and others accepted National Guard support and installed fencing as was done at the White House, it is doubtful that the riot on January 6th would have occurred or any disruption would have been far more limited in scope. The fact that the J6 Committee downplayed this major factor in the riot further undermines how the investigation was framed by the Democratic leadership. Pelosi barred the GOP members selected for the committee, hand picking two anti-Trump Republican members.

The absence of any balance on the committee was evident from the start. There was little effort to present alternative explanations or defenses to critical issues raised in hearings. No opposing witnesses were called who might contradict the narrative put forward by the Committee, including witnesses who would debunk the much-repeated, false claim that Trump wrestled with his driver to gain control of the presidential limo to drive to the Capitol.

With the Speaker admitting on tape that she bore responsibility for the lack of precautions, one would think that the J6 Committee, including then Vice Chair Liz Cheney, would consider that relevant for the public to understand the underlying facts. Instead, it was buried with much other countervailing evidence.

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