Former President Donald Trump argued in his first network interview since leaving office that former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi “is responsible for Jan. 6.”
“Nancy Pelosi was in charge of security. She turned down 10,000 soldiers. If she didn’t turn down the soldiers, you wouldn’t have had Jan. 6,” Trump told NBC’s “Meet the Press” host Kristen Welker during a recent sit-down interview at Trump’s golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey.
Trump declined to answer if he called military or law enforcement that day, saying, “I behaved so well, I did such a good job, Nancy Pelosi turned down 10,000 soldiers … if she didn’t do that …” Welker challenged Trump that Pelosi did not have the authority he had as commander in chief.
“I understand that the police testified against her, the chief very strongly against her, the Capitol police, great people,” Trump said in the interview aired Sunday. “They testified against her, and they burned all the evidence. OK? They burned all the evidence. They destroyed all the evidence about Nancy Pelosi.”
“She has authority over the Capitol,” Trump added. “National Guard not coming? I asked her [for them] to be there three days in advance, and she turned it down.”
“She says that that request was never officially made,” Welker, who newly took over the NBC program from former host Chuck Todd, interjected.
“The mayor of D.C. gave us a letter saying that she turns it down. OK, we have it. Nancy Pelosi also was asked, and she turned it down. The police commissioner of Capitol police …” Trump continues as Welker interrupts him. “Wait, a minute,” he pressed on, “Capitol police said that he wanted it, and Nancy Pelosi wouldn’t accept it. She’s responsible for Jan. 6.”
“Nancy Pelosi’s responsible, and the Jan. 6 Committee refused to interview her,” he said.
“As our office has said before, the former president’s allegations are completely made up,” a representative for Pelosi told Fox News Digital, reacting to the interview.
“As numerous independent fact-checkers have confirmed, Speaker Pelosi did not plan her own assassination,” the spokesperson added.
The decision on whether to call National Guard troops to the Capitol is made by what is known as the Capitol Police Board, which is made up of the House sergeant at arms, the Senate sergeant at arms and the architect of the Capitol. The board decided not to call the Guard ahead of Jan. 6 but did eventually request assistance after the rioting had already begun, and the troops arrived several hours later, according to the Associated Press.
The House sergeant at arms reported to Pelosi and the Senate sergeant at arms reported to Sen. Mitch McConnell, a Republican who was then Senate majority leader.
The officials on the board, along with the former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, have disputed each other’s accounts of who requested the Guard and when. Both sergeants at arms and the police chief resigned immediately after the attack. The Democrat-led Jan. 6 House Committee never subpoenaed Pelosi.
Sund claimed to the Washington Post in an interview that he requested assistance six times ahead of and during the attack on the Capitol, but each of those requests was denied or delayed. He claimed House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving was concerned with the “optics” of declaring an emergency ahead of the demonstrations and rejected a National Guard presence.
“Mr. President, you have authority as commander in chief that no one else has. Do you think you showed leadership on that day?” Welker asked Sunday. Trump said, “Yes, absolutely, I did.”
Trump insisted he could have pardoned himself before leaving office to avoid “fake charges” and “Biden indictments” he’s facing now, but “that’s the last thing I would have done.”
“They want to arrest their political opponents. Only third-world countries do that, banana republics,” Trump said. “I was given the option. I could have done a pardon of myself. You know what I said? ‘I have no interest.’”
Trump also disputed the “ridiculous” claim made by former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson before the Jan. 6 Committee that he allegedly grabbed a Secret Service agent by the neck and demanded to head to the Capitol. He refused to tell Welker how he watched the Jan. 6 riot unfold, vowing to tell people at a later time. Outside the Oval Office on Jan. 6, 2021, Trump told people to go home and praised police, the former president himself recalled in the NBC interview, but Welker noted that came hours after the riot began.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.