Rodney Davis’ claim about Nancy Pelosi’s security role on January 6 forgets Mitch McConnell


As the Democratic-led probe into the Jan.6 attack on Capitol Hill turns even more into a political finger-pointing exercise, U.S. Representative Rodney Davis from lower Illinois has joined a chorus of Republicans trying to blame the security failures on the Speaker of the House. Nancy Pelosi, D-California.

Davis – originally chosen to sit on the House panel ahead of Parliamentary Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy withdrew its five appointees in protest – appeared with a group of House Republicans to a press conference just hours before the start of the July 27 hearings.

Davis, a Republican from Taylorville who was appointed a potential Illinois gubernatorial candidate, called what he claimed were structural problems preventing Capitol Hill police from making critical decisions during the crisis.

“The police chief cannot make a final security decision without speaking to the people appointed by the politicians who make up the Capitol Police Board – his bosses,” he added. Davis said. Specifically, he pointed to the fact that then-Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving asked Pelosi for permission to seek National Guard support that afternoon:

“If Sergeant-at-Arms Irving felt he needed the President’s approval, what were the instructions and conversations he had with the President’s office prior to January 6?” Davis said.

“Former Capitol Police Chief Steve Sund testified that Irving was concerned, as many have said about ‘optics’, and we know the President’s office was calling the shots on all their actions on January 6. “

U.S. Representative Rodney Davis, R-Ill., Speaks at a press conference outside the U.S. Capitol on July 27.

U.S. Representative Rodney Davis, R-Ill., Speaks as. From left to right, parliamentary minority leader representing Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. ; Speaker of the Republican House Conference, representing Elise Stefanik, RN.Y .; Representative Jim Banks, R-Ind., Representative Jim Jordan, R-Ohio; Representative of House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-Louisana; Rep. Kelly Armstrong, RN.D., and Rep. Troy Nehls, R-Texas listen during a press conference outside the U.S. Capitol on July 27.
Alex Wong / Getty Images

Political fact and other fact checkers debunked numerous claims that Pelosi was single-handedly responsible for the security of the Capitol. Davis’s claim underscored the lecturer’s role in directing Capitol Security officials, rather than the overall security of the Capitol. But this is still very misleading.

Pelosi is no more responsible for Capitol Hill security decisions than McConnell

The sergeants-at-arms of the House and Senate, who are appointed by the president of each chamber and elected by the members of the chamber, serve as head of the Capitol’s law enforcement agencies for their respective chambers. Everyone makes decisions for the Capitol Police Commission, who supervises the Capitol police in conjunction with several House and Senate committees, including one that Davis sits on.

The House Sergeant-at-Arms reports to the Speaker of the House just as the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms reports to the Senate Majority Leader, but there are no indication Pelosi monitors day-to-day security operations. So we reached out to Davis’ office to ask what he was talking about.

Citing a February 1 letter from Sund to PelosiDavis spokesman Aaron DeGroot responded in an email that the former chief of police “could not on his own ask for National Guard support because he” did not have the power to do so without a declaration of emergency from the Capitol Police Council. “Asking for National Guard support is a major security decision, and it is a decision to which even the President’s office admits they have been involved. ”

This description is correct. According to a bipartisan Senate report in the January 6 attack, the Capitol Police Chief “has no unilateral authority to request National Guard assistance” and “must submit a request for assistance to the Capitol Police Board for approval.” Likewise, as DeGroot noted, Pelosi’s office said Irving asked the speaker for permission to call in the National Guard.

However, these facts do not prove that Pelosi made all the calls about how Sund, Irving, and the other members of the Capitol Police Council responded to the crisis – not least because Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Michael Stenger, who then reported – Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell at the time, also played an active role.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell attend a Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony on the U.S. Capitol on January 15.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell attend a Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony on the U.S. Capitol on January 15.
Drew Angerer / Getty Images

As Sund noted in his letter to Pelosi, the police chief “informed the two sergeants-at-arms” at around 1 pm on January 6 that he “was in urgent need of support.” Despite confusion over the National Guard’s statutory assistance request process, Irving and Stenger ultimately approved Sund’s request to call in reinforcements at 2:10 p.m., according to the Senate report.

Before this approval is granted, the New York Times According to spokesmen for Mr. McConnell and Ms. Pelosi, the collaborators of the two leaders of Congress “were puzzled to learn that the two sergeants-at-arms had not yet approved the request for troops.”

Supporters of Donald Trump climb the western wall of the U.S. Capitol on January 6.

Supporters of Donald Trump climb the western wall of the U.S. Capitol on January 6.
Associated press

“The speaker expects security professionals to make security decisions and be informed of those decisions,” Pelosi spokesperson Drew Hammill told The Times.

Our decision

Davis said that “we know the president’s office directed all” actions taken by Capitol Hill security officials on January 6.

As evidence, his office pointed to the fact that then-Sergeant-at-Arms Irving sought Pelosi’s approval before giving the green light to the Capitol Police Chief’s request to call. the National Guard.

But Davis and his spokesperson ignored a critical detail: The decision to approve the request and call for reinforcements wasn’t Irving’s only call. It was done in conjunction with the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms, who reports to the Senate Majority Leader. At the time, it was McConnell.

We rate Davis’ claim as primarily false.

MAINLY FALSE – The statement contains an element of truth but ignores critical facts which would give a different impression.

Click on here to learn more about the six PolitiFact assessments and how we select which facts to check.

the Association for Better Government runs PolitiFact Illinois, the local arm of the nationally renowned Pulitzer Prize-winning fact-checking firm, which assesses the veracity of statements made by government leaders and politicians. BGA’s fact-checking department has partnered with the Sun-Times every week, in print and online. You can find everything the PolitiFact Illinois stories we have reported together here.


Republican House Press Conference, C-SPAN, July 27, 2021

“No, the security of the Capitol is not only Pelosi’s responsibility, but she bears part of it”, PolitiFact, February 25, 2021

“Articles mistakenly cite Pelosi as head of security during the Capitol uprising,” The Associated Press, January 20, 2021

“Fact check that President Pelosi was responsible for the security of the US Capitol on January 6” CNN, July 21, 2021

“Fact check: Nancy Pelosi was not ‘in charge’ of the Capitol police on January 6,” USA Today, July 27, 2021

Overview of the Capitol Police Council, United States Capitol Police, accessed August 4, 2021

Capitol Police Surveillance, United States Capitol Police, accessed August 4, 2021

About the page, House Administration Committee, accessed August 4, 2021

Sund’s letter to congressional leaders, February 1, 2021

Email: Aaron DeGroot, spokesperson for Davis, July 28, 2021

“Examining the Attack on the United States Capitol: A Review of Security, Planning, and Response Failures on January 6,” US Senate Committees

“The Lost Hours: How Confusion and Inaction on Capitol Hill Delayed the Deployment of a Troop,” New York Times, February 21, 2021


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