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Why the new footage of Nancy Pelosi’s efforts on Jan. 6 matters

The latest behind-the-scenes footage suggests that key Republican claims about Speaker Nancy Pelosi's efforts on Jan. 6 are ridiculous.


While much of yesterday’s Jan. 6 committee hearing contextualized information the public had already seen, there was some video footage that was entirely new. NBC News reported:

The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection presented previously unseen video Thursday of congressional leaders pleading for help from governors, the acting secretary of defense and the acting attorney general as rioters attacked the Capitol. The video montage began with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., walking through the Capitol flanked by security guards at 2:23 p.m. ET after the Capitol was breached.... “We have got to get to finish the proceedings or else they will have a complete victory,” Pelosi said to someone, who wasn’t identified, on her cellphone.

Clip after clip, by way of stunning footage shot by Pelosi’s daughter, Alexandra Pelosi, the House speaker was seen doing what Donald Trump would not: playing a leadership role and making every effort to secure the nation’s seat of government.

Just as importantly, the California Democrat was in communications with then-Vice President Mike Pence, expressing concern about his safety — even as his boss back at the White House put his life at risk — and following through with him on plans to ensure he could fulfill his constitutional duties.

NBC News’ report added:

The video from Thursday’s hearing shows Pelosi and other congressional leaders repeatedly asking for help from law enforcement. Eventually, the video showed Pelosi and Schumer in a room with GOP congressional leaders at the time: Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., then the majority leader; House GOP Whip Steve Scalise, R-La.; and Senate GOP Whip John Thune, R-S.D.

Under normal circumstances, this may not seem especially notable. Does it really matter who was in the room as congressional leaders worked to line up security forces for the U.S. Capitol? Does it matter who was alongside Pelosi as she worked the phones to find law enforcement personnel and Guard troops who could be deployed to the Hill?

In this case, it actually matters very much.

Much of the Republican Party decided months ago to try to shift blame from Trump to Pelosi, and to that end, assorted GOP leaders have argued that Pelosi was offered National Guard assistance before Jan. 6, but she rejected it. To date, Republicans have substantiated these allegations with nothing, and since the House speaker’s office doesn’t control the Guard, the claims have long been difficult to take seriously.

But as a Washington Post analysis explained, some top Republicans have also occasionally argued that Pelosi “might have delayed the National Guard even after the unrest began.”

This claim is also baseless. And the Jan. 6 committee on Thursday played new video showing Pelosi and other leading Democrats were indeed quite keen on getting the National Guard in. In multiple scenes, they are shown pushing hard for a response as the Capitol is besieged. At one point, Pelosi makes such a plea while House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) looks on. But back in June, Scalise encouraged Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), after Banks had suggested Pelosi might have delayed the Guard.

It’s worth emphasizing for context that some of Pelosi’s leading GOP detractors have been vague at times about the specific timeline, to the point that it’s difficult to pin them down on exactly what they expected the speaker to do and when.

But the fact remains that for months, far too many Republican leaders have raised public allegations that Pelosi, in the midst of the crisis, was directly responsible for keeping Guard troops away from the Capitol. The latest behind-the-scenes footage suggests those claims aren’t just ridiculous, they’ve been promoted by people who were literally in the room with Pelosi as she worked to get Guard troops to the Capitol.