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The claim: Nancy Pelosi was in charge of Capitol Police on Jan. 6
As Capitol Hill geared up for the first hearing of a special committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, some conservatives claimed Nancy Pelosi has a conflict of interest.
A July 22 Facebook post asserts Pelosi, who created the committee, is using her role as speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives to skirt responsibility for security failures on Jan. 6.
“So let me get this straight…Nancy Pelosi was in charge of Capitol Police on Jan. 6. They were understaffed and underprepared. But now she gets to be in charge of the investigation of...herself?!” reads text in the post from Dan Carr, a Mississippi pastor with more than 30,000 followers on Facebook.
The post is a screenshot of a post originally published July 21 by Rogan O’Handley, a conservative influencer, on Gettr. The social media site was recently launched by Jason Miller, previously an adviser to former President Donald Trump
The claim that Pelosi was in charge of the U.S. Capitol Police during the insurrection has circulated both online and offline for months. On July 21 , U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, floated the claim after Pelosi rejected his appointment to the Jan. 6 special committee.
"Why wasn't there a proper security presence at the Capitol that day?" Jordan asked at a news conference. "Only one person can answer that question. Only one. The Speaker of the United States House of Representatives."
But a look at the Capitol Police’s chain of command shows that Pelosi wasn't in charge of the law enforcement agency on Jan. 6. USA TODAY previously rated a similar claim false, and other independent fact-checking organizations have reached similar conclusions.
Pelosi not ‘in charge’ of Capitol Police
In response to USA TODAY's request for comment, Carr reiterated the claim in his Facebook post.
"The Speaker Nancy Pelosi is responsible for the police officers on Capitol Hill!!" Carr said in an email. "On January 6th they was understaffed due to her lack of over site (sic). With the lack of personnel, the United States capitol was breached which should have never happened. Now she is in charge of the investigation of what happened on January 6th."
But that's wrong. The Capitol Police are overseen by a number of entities and individuals, none of whom are Pelosi.
In March, Capitol Police spokesperson John Stolnis told USA TODAY that the agency is overseen by the Capitol Police Board. Several congressional committees also oversee the agency, including the House and Senate appropriations committees, the House administration commitee and the Senate rules committee.
The Capitol Police Board is made up of the House and Senate sergeants-at-arms, as well as the Capitol architect. The Capitol Police chief serves in a non-voting capacity on the board, according to the Capitol Police website.
Pelosi was not a chair or administrator of any committee supervising the Capitol Police at the time of the insurrection. She's not listed on any of those committees' websites today, either.
Jane L. Campbell, president of the U.S. Capitol Historical Society, told CNN "the Speaker of the House does not oversee security of the U.S. Capitol, nor does this official oversee the Capitol Police Board."
Commission not only about Capitol Police
In the wake of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by pro-Trump rioters, Pelosi called for a 9/11-style special committee to investigate the day's events.
In May, Senate Republicans blocked a House bill aimed at creating a bipartisan committee to investigate the insurrection. In response, Pelosi announced June 24 the creation of a select committee. Republicans have called the effort unnecessary and political.
While the select committee will likely investigate the Capitol Police’s role in the days leading up to Jan. 6, that isn’t the sole focus.
The select committee “will investigate and report on the facts and the causes of the attack and report recommendations for the prevention” of another attack, Pelosi said in June. The committee could examine the actions of some current and former representatives and senators, as well as the general lack of preparedness on Capitol Hill. There is no evidence Pelosi herself will be investigated.
The committee’s first hearing began on July 27.
What about Pelosi’s appointment powers?
O’Handley told USA TODAY there are questions about Pelosi's objectivity since she has the ability to appoint or control members of both the Capitol Police and the Jan. 6 investigation .
But Pelosi does not appoint members to the Capitol Police Board.
Both the House and Senate sergeants-at-arms are elected and confirmed by their respective chambers. They report to the heads of those chambers – on Jan. 6, that was Pelosi and former Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
The president appoints the Capitol architect for a 10-year term “with the advice and consent of the Senate," according to a Congressional Research Service report. Trump nominated Brett Blanton to that position in December.
As speaker, Pelosi can appoint members of the House to committees, some of which have a hand in overseeing the Capitol Police. McConnell has the same power in the Senate.
O’Handley is correct to say that Pelosi has the power to appoint members of the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot.
Pelosi has selected eight members for the committee so far – seven Democrats and one Republican. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy can select five members to join the committee, but they must be approved by Pelosi.
Our rating: False
The claim that Pelosi was in charge of Capitol Police on Jan. 6 is FALSE, based on our research. While the House speaker has some ties to Capitol Police oversight, saying Pelosi is “in charge” of the agency isn't accurate. The agency is overseen by a three-member board, none of whom are appointed by Pelosi. Additionally, the Jan. 6 select committee will investigate more than the Capitol Police, and there's no evidence Pelosi herself will be investigated.
Our fact check sources:
United States Capitol Police, Capitol Police Board
United States House of Representatives, Sergeant at Arms
United States Senate, Office of the Sergeant at Arms and Doorkeeper
PolitiFact, Feb. 25, No, Capitol security is not only Pelosi’s responsibility, but she bears some
New York Times, Jan. 11, Congress’s Sergeants-at-Arms Face Scrutiny After Siege
USA TODAY, Jan. 13, 'Unfathomable': Capitol Police security breakdown prompts chief's resignation
Congressional Research Service, Nov. 29, 2018, Architect of the Capitol: Evolution and Implementation of the Appointment Procedure
Architect of the Capitol, J. Brett Blanton
USA TODAY, May 31, Senate Republicans block commission to study Capitol riot of Jan. 6
Dan Carr, July 22, Facebook
Associated Press, Jan. 20, Posts falsely cite Pelosi as responsible for security during Capitol insurrection
Rogan O'Handley, July 21, Gettr
U.S. House of Representatives' Kids Clerk, WHAT IS CONGRESS?
Dan Carr, July 24, Email exchange with USA TODAY
Rogan O’Handley, XXX, Email exchange with USA TODAY
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Nancy Pelosi isn’t ‘in charge’ of Capitol Police