- US Capitol Police are investigating Friday’s brutal attack on congressional spouse Paul Pelosi.
- Details about congressional security practices remain closely guarded after the January 6 attack.
- Late GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch once publicly thanked the 23 officers who protected him.
The US Capitol Police cited “safety reasons” in its intentionally vague response about the layers of security provided to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other congressional leaders in today’s hyperpartisan and increasingly volatile political climate.
“For safety reasons, the USCP does not discuss potential security measures for Members,” the Capitol Police’s public information office wrote in an email when asked about Friday’s attack on Paul Pelosi, the speaker’s husband, at their San Francisco home. The speaker, who is second-in-line to the US presidency, was not present at the time.
Staff for House Sergeant at Arms William Walker, the retired Army general tasked with guarding House lawmakers following the deadly siege at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, also declined to comment, reinforcing the opaqueness that’s thrown up when lawmakers are threatened.
Keeping information about congressional security practices under wraps is apparently part of the Capitol Police’s job, as critical details remain closely guarded.
Insider was able to confirm that, while she is right behind Vice President Kamala Harris in the presidential line of succession, Pelosi does not qualify for round-the-clock protection by federal agents.
“The Speaker of the House is not a Secret Service protectee,” US Secret Service spokesman Anthony Guglielmi wrote in an email, adding that all other questions about Pelosi’s protection should be directed to the US Capitol Police.
Pelosi’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the dedicated security detail that follows her all around the US Capitol or if that configuration has changed since the January 6 attack in Washington.
But other lawmakers have offered glimpses into their own security coverage.
In 2017 late congressional newspaper Roll Call reported that late-GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch, who was then-president pro tempore of the Senate and third-in-line to the presidency, divulged that nearly two dozen armed guards surrounded him and his wife at all times.
“These men and women are like family to me,” Hatch said of those assigned to protect him. Hatch aides added that his 23-person security detail “is the second largest on the Hill following Speaker Ryan.”
Which, extrapolated out, would mean Pelosi’s protective force is likely to be even higher today, particularly since she was personally targeted by MAGA supporters during the January 6 attack.
Staff for then-Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn confirmed in that same Roll Call story that the Texas Republican had a five-person security detail in 2017. Similar media reports say that full-time congressional security details are limited to the speaker, House and Senate majority and minority leaders, and House and Senate whips.
Heightened security concerns abound
Axios reported earlier this year on the hundreds of thousands in campaign funds lawmakers spent on personal security in 2021 as threats to lawmakers rise.
Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia led the pack of security-seeking officials with more than $600,000 in payments. Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas followed with more than $360,000 in private security costs.
Across the Capitol, Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York reported spending more than $83,000 on private security. Last month she told The New York Times that she’d spent more than $120,000 on private security over the past year. And that’s on top of the added security US Capitol Police afforded her because of all the threats her staff fields on a day-to-day basis.
Party leaders reportedly told Ocasio-Cortez that she’s one of the most threatened lawmakers in Congress, alongside Pelosi and Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota.
Financial records filed by the Nancy Pelosi Victory Fund PAC show that the fundraising committee paid nearly $4,000 to private security firm Safehouse Security Solutions this spring.
Pelosi’s office did not respond to requests for comment about any outside security arrangements the speaker has used in the past or might be employing right now.