Pelosi says any lawmaker who helped insurrectionists could face criminal prosecution
Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday that lawmakers found to have aided any aspect of the mob violence and insurrection that overran Capitol Hill last week could face prosecution.
“If in fact it is found that members of Congress were accomplices to this insurrection, if they aided and abetted the crime, there may have to be actions taken beyond the Congress in terms of prosecutions,” Pelosi said at a press conference, choking up at times as she decried the racism and bigotry some of the rioters displayed openly on Capitol grounds.
Pelosi, in particular, singled out a participant in the violence who was wearing a sweatshirt that read “Camp Auschwitz,” a reference to the concentration camp at which more than 1 million Jews were systematically killed during the Holocaust. Pelosi described a congressional delegation visit to some of the most notorious Nazi concentration camps that she described as a “transformative” moment for lawmakers who were overwhelmed by the “dehumanizing of people” that occurred there.
“To see this punk with that shirt on and his anti-Semitism that he has bragged about to be part of a white supremacist raid on this capitol requires us to have an after-action review,” Pelosi said.
Authorities arrested the man seen wearing the sweatshirt, 56-year-old Robert Keith Packer of Newport News, VA., and charged him with violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds as well as unlawfully entering a restricted building.
Pelosi delivered her remarks two days after the House impeached President Donald Trump for inciting the riots that left five people dead, including a Capitol Police officer. Those riots included an element of armed insurrectionists that federal prosecutors now say intended to assassinate top lawmakers and Vice President Mike Pence for certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election.
Pelosi said that as a result, she’s tapping a retired lieutenant general, Russel Honoré, to conduct a thorough review of Capitol security measures ahead of Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration.
She also said that the nine impeachment managers she appointed to lead the Senate trial have been meeting to prepare their arguments and strategy. She declined to say when she would formally deliver the articles of impeachment to the Senate, which would kick off a trial in the first days of Biden’s administration.
Asked about the allegations by some House Democrats that Republican members of Congress may have aided the rioters, perhaps by giving them advance tours so they could scout the Capitol, Pelosi said she’s interested in finding the truth.
“In order to serve here with each other, we must trust that people have respect for their oath of office, respect for this institution,” she said. “We must trust each other, respecting the people who sent us here. We must also have the truth. And that will be looked into.”
Democrats have not presented specific evidence that any lawmakers helped lead these tours but have asked the Capitol Police to provide logs.