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Posts falsely cite Pelosi as responsible for security during Capitol insurrection

January 20, 2021 GMT

CLAIM: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who is in charge of overseeing the Capitol Police, is responsible for security failures that allowed the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol to happen. 

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. Pelosi does not oversee day-to-day operations of the Capitol Police. 

THE FACTS: After the deadly riot at the Capitol, social media users began sharing posts that blamed Pelosi for security shortfalls that allowed the building Capitol to be breached.

“It was Capitol Police that let the intruders in and it was Capitol police who killed an innocent woman that was on the opposite side of a door from that officer whom we still don’t know the name of,” said one tweet with more than 2,000 likes. “Nancy Pelosi is in charge of Capitol Police NOT Trump.”

Many of the posts falsely claiming Pelosi was responsible as leader of the House were promoted by accounts showing support for President Donald Trump. 

Capitol Police are responsible for security on the grounds of the Capitol and protecting Congress, along with the House and Senate sergeants-at-arms. 

“No one person oversees USCP -- the oversight apparatus includes representation from the Architect of the Capitol, the House and Senate Sergeants at Arms, as well as committees from both Houses of Congress,” Bee Barnett, director of communications and programs for the U.S. Capitol Historical Society, said in an email. 

While the Capitol Police budget is approved by both chambers of Congress, Pelosi does not control day-to-day operations or officer assignments.

The storming of the Capitol, which occurred as Congress met to tally the Electoral College votes confirming Joe Biden won the election, left five people dead, including Brian Sicknick, a Capitol Police officer who was hit in the head with a fire extinguisher. The building was placed under lockdown and members of Congress were forced to hide. 

Three top security officials resigned following pressure from congressional leaders, including Police Chief Steven Sund, Senate Sergeant at Arms Michael Stenger, and longtime House Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving.  

Pelosi called the events a “failure of leadership at the top” and called for Sund’s resignation. Irving had already resigned when she sought Sund’s resignation. Sund was hired in 2019 by a three-member board which consists of the two sergeants at arms from the house and senate, as well as the Architect of the Capitol. 


Associated Press reporter Matthew Daly contributed to this report.


This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: