By Alyssa Bowen, Evan Vorpahl and Lisa Graves
On January 6th, freshman Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) tweeted that the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), had been “removed” from the chamber of the House as the violent mob swarmed the Capitol building. Critics excoriated Rep. Boebert for tweeting about the location of Speaker Pelosi, who is second in the presidential line of succession and was directly threatened by some of the insurrectionists. Many called for Boebert’s resignation as a result.
In response, Rep. Boebert asserted that she was just relaying what was already reported on C-SPAN. On Rep. Boebert’s behalf, her then-Communications Director Laura Carno (who is a Senior Fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum) said C-SPAN had “announced [Pelosi] had left the chamber” before Boebert’s tweet, and that the media and Democrats were “making it up.” Rep. Boebert herself asserted in a tweet that C-SPAN had “broadcasted it first.”
However, a review of the livestream of C-SPAN as well as other traditional and social media coverage that day appears to demonstrate that Boebert was the first person to announce to the public that Speaker Pelosi had been “removed” from the Chamber as it was being swarmed by rioters. (For the full set of Rep. Boebert’s election tweets, read the social media report by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA). Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) has also requested an investigation of Rep. Boebert and others.)
Here is a review of the relevant time-frame on January 6 (all times Eastern and are based on the Congressional Record, the live stream from C-SPAN, and other eyewitness news):
- 1:00pm Speaker Nancy Pelosi gavels the joint session of Congress to count the Electoral College votes.
- 1:10pm Trump ends his speech at the Women for America First “SAVE AMERICA” event on the ellipse by the White House after multiple calls to go to the Capitol. Many head to the Capitol.
- 1:20pm Speaker Pelosi gavels open the House session on objections to counting the Electoral College ballots. Impassioned arguments about the certified ballots from Arizona are made by Reps. Steve Scalise (R-LA), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Jim Jordan (R-OH), Adam Schiff (D-CA), Andy Biggs (R-AZ), and Jamie Raskin (D-MD). (The Senate is also hearing objections.)
- 1:50pm Metropolitan Police on-scene incident commander Robert Glover declares a riot, as Trump supporters attack officers and breach the security perimeters on the Capitol grounds.
- 1:55pm Rep. Boebert shouts throughout most of her remarks, calling the decision to allow Americans in Arizona ten more days for voter registration due to the Covid pandemic “indefensible.” She also yells that she was elected to represent Coloradoans and says “I have constituents outside this building right now.” She then screams that “every fraudulent vote cancelled out the vote of an honest American.” She yields the remainder of her time to Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL). (Earlier in the day she had tweeted simply “1776” — the year of the Revolutionary War.)
- 1:59pm Capitol Police Chief Sund receives the first reports that rioters had reached the Capitol’s doors and windows and were trying to break in.
- 2:00pm Over the next 14 minutes, Speaker Pelosi recognizes or calls on Reps. Joe Neguse (D-CO), Mike Johnson (R-LA), and Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), who also give passionate statements.
- 2:13pm Meanwhile, the President of the Senate, Charles Grassley (R-IA), gavels the Senate into recess due to the danger in the Capitol as Sen. Jim Lankford (R-OK) is speaking. Around that same time, as the public later learns, Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman was luring a menacing mob of insurrectionists away from the hallway to the Senate chambers which was full of Senators.
- 2:14pm Speaker Pelosi recognizes Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ). (Through this point in the timeline, from Speaker Pelosi’s opening gavel an hour earlier, there was no break in coverage from C-SPAN, which was live streaming video of the remarks in the House uninterrupted.)
- 2:14pm Separate from C-SPAN, MSNBC announces live that the Secret Service ushered Vice President Pence and Senator Grassley (R-IA) out of the Senate chamber, but it made no mention of Speaker Pelosi’s whereabouts.
- 2:16pm On C-SPAN, Rep. Gosar looks up from his remarks to address “Madam Speaker” due to noise in the gallery above the House chamber and realizes that Speaker Pelosi no longer has the gavel, though this is not visible on the live stream. Shortly after 2:16pm, Rep. Gosar corrects himself and requests that “Mr. Speaker” (Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA)) bring order to the Chamber. When the live stream from the camera filming the front of the House is shown, Speaker Pelosi is not visible in the rostrum at the front of the chamber. However, the full House chamber cannot be seen on C-SPAN and so there is no way for viewers to know if she is elsewhere on the floor or not.
- 2:16pm Federal Protective Service officers relay internally that the House and Senate chambers are being locked down to be protected from the rioters who are swarming the Capitol.
- 2:17pm Rep. Boebert tweets “We were locked in the House Chambers.” (That is, she was not back in her office in the Longworth Building watching what was happening on the floor of the chamber on C-SPAN; Boebert was still in there, where she had spoken just minutes earlier as part of the lead efforts to block the counting of Arizona’s votes.) C-SPAN’s live stream broadcasts only the front of the chamber where Rep. McGovern is presiding and other Members are moving about. There is no film showing Speaker Pelosi being removed from the chambers. Rep. McGovern did not announce that the Members were locked in the Chambers and no press reported that was happening at that time.
- 2:18pm Rep. Boebert tweets “The Speaker has been removed from the Chambers.” C-SPAN has not broadcast any “removal” of Speaker Pelosi or mentioned her at all in this period. (Boebert did not tweet about any other Member’s whereabouts, that is where they could be found or could not be.)
- 2:18pm Rep. McGovern gavels the House into recess. Shortly thereafter, “‘There was a call for people to start preparing their gas masks because they’re deploying tear gas to keep these people at bay,’ said Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ).” For the next nearly 20 minutes, House Members and staff sheltered on the floor within the House chamber and gallery, with many in fear for their lives. Security officers barricaded the doors and stood ready with guns aimed at the internal doors.
- 2:18pm Jennifer Jacobs of Bloomberg tweets that Vice President Pence was escorted out of the Senate, but makes no mention of Speaker Pelosi.
- 2:22pm C-SPAN reports that other media is saying “the Vice President has left.”
- 2:23pm OAN retweets “Where’s Mike Pence?” and does not mention Speaker Pelosi.
- 2:24pm As TV stations show rioters breaking into the Capitol and attacking police, Trump tweets: “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!” (Trump also later said: “I mean, personally, what I wanted was what they wanted.”)
- 2:35pm MSNBC announces that Vice President Pence and Sen. Grassley have been taken to a secure location but does not mention Speaker Pelosi.
- 2:37pm CQ Roll Call Senior Reporter Niels Lesniewski says live on C-SPAN that those in the presidential line of succession were shuffled away. He also states he does not want to say more because it could be dangerous for them.
- 2:40pm Fox News announces live that the entire house floor is being evacuated, but does not mention Speaker Pelosi. Rep. Gallego took a photo of the barricaded door in the hall of the Speaker’s Lobby, with a crowd amassed outside it.
- 2:44pm Ashli Babbitt is shot trying to fling herself through a broken window in the door to the Speaker’s Lobby. In other parts of the Capitol, rioters were caught on tape taunting “Where’s Nancy?” Meanwhile, some of Speaker Pelosi’s staff were barricaded within the Speaker’s suite of offices as rioters broke into the Speaker’s personal office and searched for her, along with rifling through documents and her possessions, as she detailed in her interview on 60 Minutes.
Accordingly, the available evidence suggests that it was Rep. Boebert who first alerted people that Speaker Pelosi had been “removed” from the House Chamber as of 2:18pm.
There is no record that C-SPAN ever announced prior to 2:18pm that Speaker Pelosi had been removed from the Chamber, and we can find no other news outlet that reported it contemporaneously. In addition, Boebert was locked in the Chamber at that time, and was not in her office in the Longworth Building watching the floor on C-SPAN. Additionally, C-SPAN watchers at home could only see that Speaker Pelosi was not in the rostrum shortly after 2:16pm, not whether she was in another part of the chamber conferring with other Members and not if she had left or been “removed” from the House chamber as Rep. Boebert tweeted to the public following her tweets.
A year after the January 6 insurrection, GOP legislators like Boebert who have weaponized lies about our elections that incited January 6 and defended MAGA militants, have not only not been held accountable, but continue to hold positions of power with which to continue their attack on our country.
- Find our full report on the role of some right-wing women in the January 6 incitement here.
- Our recent report published on Substack shows the way the Independent Women’s Forum/Voice, right-wing dark money groups that use their “independent facade” to market extreme policies to a broader audience, pushed the Big Lie. These organizations downplayed the insurrection and defended the insurrectionists, even calling them “political prisoners.”
- See this additional new timeline from Rep. Don Beyer on GOP legislators’ support for January 6 MAGA militants.
Today’s report updates True North’s research first released in August 2021.