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- Jamie Fleet, a top aide to Nancy Pelosi, pondered setting up an “alternate Chamber” on January 6.
- He told the Jan. 6 committee he inquired about it after walking past Trump supporters in combat fatigues.
- He also said that staff had planned for potential disruptions on the House floor as votes were counted.
Jamie Fleet, a senior adviser to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the staff director of the Committee on House Administration, planned for a number of different scenarios ahead of the joint session of Congress on January 6, 2021.
Among the scenarios Fleet considered was an “alternate Chamber” for lawmakers to count Electoral College votes if the House Chamber was deemed unsafe.
As Fleet was walking towards the Capitol from his home on Capitol Hill shortly after 8 a.m. on January 6, he said he “passed folks who appeared to me to be clearly in town for the purposes of the … joint session,” prompting him to call Tom Krietzer, an employee with the Chief Administrative Office.
“I asked Tom at that point how long it would take to set up an alternate Chamber if we needed to,” Fleet told investigators, saying it was “just a feeling in the neighborhood” that prompted the call.
“Backpacks, Trump flags, fatigues, combat fatigues,” he later elaborated, noting that it was also unusual to see protestors in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. He said Krietzer told him “what it would take to stand up a couple on-campus rooms that could be used for legislative business.”
Ultimately, that contingency plan wasn’t utilized, with Pelosi later insisting that lawmakers finish the job of counting votes from the House Chamber after the Capitol was overrun.
Fleet also told committee investigators that planning for the joint session began in the summer of 2020, long before the November election. “I was watching President Trump very methodically lay a basis for an argument that the election, if he was unsuccessful, was improperly decided,” he told the committee.
He said that he and other staff began studying the Electoral Count Act — which was recently revised by Congress as part of a broader government spending bill — as well as election procedures in states that were likely to be contested.
Fleet also detailed a conversation he had with Pelosi’s chief of staff, Terri McCullough, and then-House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving on January 5 about a possible “disruption among Members” on the House floor, discussing how Irving might mitigate it.
Irving had raised the concern, according to Fleet, based on public reporting of “some of the former President’s supporters in the Congress who were intending to bring passion to their objections.”
While no large-scale disruptions ultimately occurred during the session, members reportedly nearly came to blows during a debate on Pennsylvania’s electoral votes after the joint session re-convened, as Democratic Rep. Jason Crow of Colorado said Republicans who were echoing Trump’s lies about the 2020 election “should be ashamed of themselves.”