Watch CBS News

Pelosi condemns GOP lawmaker for "sick" comments downplaying Capitol assault

Officials vow to address domestic extremism
Biden administration vows to address domestic terrorism in the U.S. 07:29

Washington — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday ripped Republican Congressman Andrew Clyde of Georgia for downplaying the January 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol, calling his comments describing the insurrectionists as behaving like they were on a typical Capitol tour "sick" and "quite appalling."

"It was beyond denial. It fell into the range of sick," Pelosi told reporters during her weekly press conference. "And that's what we have to deal with when we are saying it's urgent for us to secure the Capitol. 'Why? It was just a normal tourist day.' We have to strengthen our police force. 'Why? It was just a normal tourist day,' and we have to establish a commission for January 6. 'Why? It was just a normal tourist day.'"

Clyde's comment came during a hearing before the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Wednesday about the Trump administration's preparations for and response to the January 6 attack. Speaking about the footage of the assault that aired on television, the Georgia Republican said viewers may have thought it was a "normal tourist visit" being shown if they didn't know it was from January 6.

"There was no insurrection, and to call it an insurrection, in my opinion, is a bald-faced lie," Clyde said. "Watching the TV footage of those who entered the Capitol and walk through Statuary Hall showed people in an orderly fashion staying between the stanchions and ropes taking videos and pictures."

Pelosi said the remarks made during the hearing by Clyde and other Republicans were "quite appalling."

"It's no use my even telling you about it. You have to see it for yourself," she said, reiterating Clyde's description of the mob's conduct as that of a "normal" visit. "Really? Really? Well, I don't know on a normal day around here when people are threatening to hang the vice president of the United States or shoot the speaker in the forehead or disrupt and injure so many police officers. I don't consider that normal." 

Pelosi said Clyde's comments demonstrate the challenges Democrats have encountered when attempting to work with Republicans on a $2 billion supplemental funding bill to harden the Capitol complex and the parameters of a commission studying the January 6 insurrection.

Still, the speaker said that she is "optimistic" Republicans and Democrats can reach consensus on the January 6 commission. Democrats conceded on the panel's subpoena power and membership, as it will be evenly divided between five Republicans and five Democrats, Pelosi said.

But she said Democrats are unwilling to budge on the scope of the investigation, which Republicans want to broaden to focus on the Black Lives Matter movement, antifa and protests against racial injustice last summer. 

"We cannot concede on the scope," Pelosi said. "And that was sort of the last stumbling block."

If neither side can reach agreement on a January 6 commission, the speaker said the House can always pursue a congressional investigation where Democrats, as the majority, will have full subpoena power, though she said it is her hope "that we don't have to go that route."

While Pelosi stressed the need for a January 6 commission to be bipartisan to ensure public confidence, she indicated Democrats are prepared to move forward with the supplemental spending bill for Capitol security without GOP support. House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro could file the measure as soon as Thursday, she said, with a floor vote taking place next week.

"There are those who want to put this, that and the other thing on there," she said. "And we think it just has to be focused on its purpose, which is January 6."

Pelosi said she received a letter from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy asking her to pause action on the Capitol security funding until the end of the year, a suggestion she rebuffed as a hardening of the complex is "overdue."

"The end of the year? A year from the insurrection," she said. "We can't do that. We will go forward with what was recommended."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.