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This exhibit from video released by the House Select Committee, shows then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi talking on the phone to then-Vice President Mike Pence, with then-Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Jan. 6, 2021. (AP) This exhibit from video released by the House Select Committee, shows then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi talking on the phone to then-Vice President Mike Pence, with then-Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Jan. 6, 2021. (AP)

This exhibit from video released by the House Select Committee, shows then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi talking on the phone to then-Vice President Mike Pence, with then-Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Jan. 6, 2021. (AP)

Sara Swann
By Sara Swann November 21, 2023

Footage of Nancy Pelosi on Jan. 6, 2021, doesn’t prove Capitol attack was staged

If Your Time is short

  • This footage from Jan. 6, 2021, shows then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaking with then-Vice President Mike Pence about when Congress would be able to reconvene to finish certifying the 2020 election results.

  • There are copious news reports and video and audio recordings showing that the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol was not staged. It was a real event with real consequences. More than 1,100 people have been charged with federal crimes related to the attack.

Following news that House Speaker Mike Johnson would release 44,000 hours of footage from Jan. 6, 2021, social media users are claiming pre-existing videos of Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., from that day show the Capitol attack was staged.

A Nov. 19 Instagram reel showed two clips from Jan. 6, 2021, of then-House Speaker Pelosi speaking on the phone with then-Vice President Mike Pence about when members of Congress would be able to safely return to the Capitol after rioters stormed the building.

In the first clip, Pelosi stands by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and holds a phone. Pence says on speaker phone: "I’m at the Capitol building. I’m literally standing with the chief of the U.S. Capitol Police. … They believe that the House and the Senate will be able to reconvene in roughly an hour."

The second clip shows Schumer holding the phone with Pelosi and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, listening as Pence says the same three sentences.

"Exact same recording. Two different shots. One with Grassley — one without Grassley," text on the video read.

The Instagram post’s caption said, "Some of you are confused. It’s called a movie, with great actors, central casting ‘cause it’s all a show."

(Screengrab from Instagram)

Another Instagram post, also shared Nov. 19, showed the same video clips of Pelosi and made a similar claim that the Capitol attack was a setup. These posts were flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)

Although the video clips in the Instagram posts appear to have the same audio recording, a full video of the Congress members’ phone call with Pence shows that’s not so.

A short clip of the conversation with Pence was released Oct. 13, 2022, by the House select committee on the Jan. 6 attack. CNN obtained and published a longer video of that conversation the same day. Both videos were filmed by Alexandra Pelosi, a documentary filmmaker and Nancy Pelosi’s daughter.

In the full video, Nancy Pelosi holds the cellphone beside Schumer as Pence says the Capitol Police chief believes the House and Senate will be able to reconvene in an hour. Pence later says he will call Schumer, unless Schumer is present, and Pelosi hands the phone to Schumer.

At this point, about a minute and a half later, Grassley walks up to Pelosi and Schumer and listens to Pence relay the same information about when Congress can reconvene. But the audio from earlier in the clip is not repeated, as it is in the Instagram posts.

This footage shows congressional leaders coordinating with the vice president to resume certifying the 2020 election after rioters stormed the Capitol. It does not prove that the events of Jan. 6, 2021, were scripted or part of a movie.

In the nearly three years since the Capitol attack, PolitiFact has fact-checked numerous false claims about the attack and found no evidence that it was contrived. Falsehoods about the attack were named PolitiFact’s 2021 Lie of the Year. It was a real event with real consequences.

Hundreds of people, fueled partly by the false belief that the 2020 presidential election had been stolen, stormed the Capitol as Congress was certifying the election results. The rioters, many armed and clad in Trump-branded apparel and combat gear, scaled walls, broke windows, forced their way into the building and repeatedly clashed with police.

One woman was fatally shot by police during the attack. And five police officers who served at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, died soon after, The New York Times reported.

In February 2021, the cost of the attack, including repairs, enhanced security and increased mental health services, was estimated to exceed $30 million, The New York Times reported.

Since the attack, more than 1,100 people have been charged with federal crimes, including obstruction of Congress, use of a deadly or dangerous weapon, and causing serious bodily injury to an officer. Of those, 714 have pleaded guilty and 709 have been sentenced, according to an NPR analysis.

We rate the claim that videos of Nancy Pelosi from Jan. 6, 2021, show the Capitol attack was staged False.

Our Sources

Instagram post, Nov. 19, 2023

Instagram post, Nov. 19, 2023

YouTube, "NBC News - Jan. 6 Committee Shows New Video Of Pelosi And Other Lawmakers During Capitol Riot," Oct. 13, 2023

YouTube, "CNN - Stunning January 6 audio between Pence and Pelosi released," Oct. 13, 2022

PolitiFact, "The Jan. 6 Capitol attack: A year of debunking false narratives," Jan. 4, 2022

PolitiFact, "New footage of Pelosi on Jan. 6, 2021, doesn't prove the attack on the Capitol was planned," June 6, 2023

PolitiFact, "Video footage of Pelosi and Schumer on Jan. 6 doesn’t prove the Capitol attack was a setup," Oct. 17, 2022

PolitiFact, "Evidence rebuts Tucker Carlson’s claim about Capitol Police acting as tour guides to ‘QAnon Shaman’," March 7, 2023

PolitiFact, "The 2021 Lie of the Year: Lies about the Jan. 6 Capitol attack and its significance," Dec. 15, 2021

PolitiFact, "Jan. 6 defendants were armed with guns, other weapons, documents show," July 13, 2021

PolitiFact, "There’s no proof antifa stormed the Capitol. The rumor spread quickly anyway," Jan. 7, 2021

PolitiFact, "‘Everything we trained for’: How the far-right Oath Keepers militia planned for violence on Jan. 6," Sept. 23, 2021

The New York Times, "These Are the People Who Died in Connection With the Capitol Riot," Jan. 5, 2022

The New York Times, "Capitol Riot Costs Will Exceed $30 Million, Official Tells Congress," Feb. 24, 2021

NPR, "Explore NPR database of Jan. 6 Capitol riot cases and sentencing status updates," Nov. 17, 2023

The Associated Press, "Speaker Johnson says he’ll make 44,000 hours of Jan. 6 footage available to the general public," Nov. 17, 2023

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Footage of Nancy Pelosi on Jan. 6, 2021, doesn’t prove Capitol attack was staged

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