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Pelosi's Jan. 6 story unravels as evidence mounts that Capitol breach was preventable

Contemporaneous emails and text messages show Pelosi staff involved in failed security planning ahead of Capitol riot.

Published: December 21, 2022 10:04pm

Updated: December 23, 2022 6:13am

A month after the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riot, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi deflected any suggestion she or her staff could have influenced the security that failed that day when the Capitol building was breached. "I have no power over the Capitol Police," she declared.

Two years later, that claim is directly challenged by contemporaneous text and email messages made public by five House Republicans showing her staff had direct contact with the officials who planned the security and even edited some of the plans and notifications in the fateful days before tragedy struck.

The revelations, released Wednesday in a House GOP report obtained by Just the News, are prompting serious questions about whether the Jan. 6 Capitol breach could have been prevented while creating a new push for Republicans to summon Pelosi for testimony after they take over the House next month

"January 6 should have never happened," Rep. Troy Nehls (R-Texas), one of the authors of the report, told Just the News on Wednesday night.

"The reason there wasn't a proper security presence on that day goes right to the Speaker's staff and the Speaker's office," added Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), the soon-to-be-chairman of the House Judiciary Committee:

The Republican report — which also included the work of Reps. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) and Kelly Armstrong — provided a meticulous, fact-based recounting of how Pelosi's staff began meeting and communicating with security planners in the House Sergeant at Arms office in early December 2020, continuing all the way through the final 48 hours before the attacks.

Those communications were occurring as Capitol Police began receiving detailed intelligence that extremist groups were discussing storming the Capitol, attacking lawmakers, targeting the tunnels beneath the complex and blocking the planned certification of the 2020 election results.

Capitol Police whistleblowers told the congressmen there were ample and detailed warnings that violence would occur on Jan. 6, but the leadership of the Capitol Police failed to adjust  the security plan to address the threat while the political leadership in Congress repeatedly refused to provide resources to secure the building.

One officer discussed how he went to the Capitol unaware of the threat assessment with only a police cap as his equipment. Others revealed that congressional security leaders turned down resources like armed officers or National Guard troops ahead of the tragedy because of concerns about the political optics.

The $600 million-a-year Capitol Police "was set up to fail, and there have been scant signs of progress toward addressing these weaknesses" since the attack, the lawmakers warned.

You can read the full report here:

While the mainstream news media and Democrats have suggested Pelosi and congressional leaders were not to blame for the security failures, internal messages of House security planners pointedly slammed Pelosi and her congressional appropriators for failing to provide the resources needed to secure the building.

After Pelosi forced House Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving to resign following the devastating events of Jan. 6, for instance, a staffer in the House Sergeant at Arms office sent a stinging email suggesting the Democratic leadership had made Irving and Capitol Police Chief Steve Sund the fall guys to cover up the failure of lawmakers to provided adequate security resources.

"For the Speaker's knee-jerk reaction to yesterday's unprecedented event (and God knows how Congress lives for its knee-jerk reactions and to hell with future consequences ... ). to immediately call for your resignation ... after you have been denied again and again by Appropriations for proper security outfitting of the Capitol (and I WROTE several of those testimonies, dangit) ... and to blame you personally because our department was doing the best they could with what they had and our comparatively small department size and limited officer resources ... and because other agencies stepped in to assist just a fraction too late ... again, for Congress to demand your resignation is spectacularly unjust, unfair, and unwarranted," the staffer wrote Irving, according to the email included in the report.

"This is not your fault," the staffer added. "Or Sund's fault. If anything, Appropriations should be hung out to dry."

​The new report also corroborated prior reporting by Just the News that Capitol Police began receiving specific warnings in mid-December that there could be significant violence planned against the Capitol and lawmakers by protesters planning to attend the certification of the 2020 election results.

"Prior to that day, the U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) had obtained sufficient information from an array of channels to anticipate and prepare for the violence that occurred," the report noted.

The Capitol Police issued a statement Wednesday night that did not challenge any of the findings of the report, but rather vowed to accelerate changes to improve security.

"For nearly two years our officers, officials and civilian employees have been working around the clock to address many of these findings and similar findings from a series of post January 6 reviews we value everyone's input and we are confident the U.S. Capitol Complex is more secure because of the hard work of our brave men and women and because of the resources provided by the Congress to turn recommendations into results," the department said.

Pelosi's office did not respond to a request for comment.

Banks said the GOP report helps counter a Democrat narrative that ignored security failures by police and political leadership, he said.

"Our report exposes the partisanship, incompetence and indifference that led to the disaster on January 6 and the leading role Speaker Pelosi and her office played in the security failure at the Capitol," he said. "Unlike  the sham January 6th Committee, House Republicans produced a useful report that will keep Capitol and USCP officers safe with no subpoena power and no budget."

The report does not sugarcoat the behavior of pro-Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol.

"On January 6, 2021, criminal rioters assaulted police officers, broke into the U.S. Capitol, damaged property, and temporarily interfered with the certification of states' presidential and vice presidential electors at the Joint Session of Congress — a typically pro forma event," it noted.

But its most explosive revelations involved text and email messages showing that two key staffers in Pelosi's office attended regular meetings to discuss the security plan for Jan. 6 dating back to early December 2020 and that Pelosi's top aide even edited some of the plans. Most of those discussions and meetings excluded Republican lawmakers in the House, the report noted.

"Then-House Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving — who served on the Capitol Police Board by virtue of his position — succumbed to political pressures from the Office of Speaker Pelosi and House Democrat leadership leading up to January 6, 2021," the report said. "He coordinated closely with the Speaker and her staff and left Republicans out of important discussions related to security."

The GOP report directly challenges the story Pelosi gave in February 2021 that she had "no power" over Capitol Police or the security plan for Jan. 6. "Documents provided by the House Sergeant at Arms show how then-House Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving carried out his duties in clear deference to the Speaker, her staff, and other Democratic staff," it said.

It noted that Pelosi's chief of staff Terri McCullough and another aide assigned to Pelosi's staff, Jamie Fleet, had regular contact with police and the sergeant at arms over the security planning for Jan. 6 starting in early December 2020. At one point, McCullough was so involved she was asked to edit a security plan letter that was going to lawmakers a few days ahead of the tragic events.

"Irving sent the draft to McCullough and Fleet and requested any edits comments or concerns," the report said "McCullough responded shortly afterwards with edits."

The Republicans used Pelosi's own actions over the course of her speakership to demonstrate that she regularly exercised control over security, and the police and sergeant at arms acquiesced. Pelosi "denies the relationship and ignores her office's obligation to secure the Capitol, perhaps in an effort to shift blame," the report suggested.

"Speaker Pelosi exercised her authority with respect to the safety and security of the House of Representatives when she directed the use of magnetometers outside the House chamber in the name of safety," it noted. "She announced the use of punitive fines for Members who refused to go through the metal detectors. Similarly, she required masks in the House chamber and around the House Office Buildings."

The report faults Irving for being distracted by other responsibilities and a top intelligence official for the Capitol Police for making changes to intelligence analysis that kept front-line officers from knowing the dangers they were about to face that day.

"Officers on the front lines and analysts in USCP's intelligence division were undermined by the misplaced priorities of their leadership," the report said. "Those problems were exacerbated by the House Sergeant at Arms, who was distracted from giving full attention to the threat environment prior to January 6, 2021 by several other upcoming events."

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