Nancy Pelosi denied on Thursday that the House of Representatives had adjourned early because of a potential QAnon threat on the Capitol, calling it “silliness”.
“I don’t think anybody should take any encouragement that because some troublemakers might show up that we changed our whole schedule,” Ms Pelosi told reporters. “No, we just moved it a few hours and it largely will accommodate the Republicans going to their own session.”
The House speaker said the purpose of the adjournment was to give House Republicans time to hold their annual issues conference – not, she emphasised, because of a conspiracy theory that Donald Trump would be inaugurated that day for a second term.
“The silliness of this being Inauguration Day and that in May (sic) the president will be inaugurated falls into the realm of ‘Let’s not waste our time on it,’” Ms Pelosi said.
Until 1933, 4 March was the inauguration day of American presidents. But an amendment to the Constitution changed it to 20 January. Some followers of the elaborate conspiracy theory QAnon believe the March date is still the “real” inauguration day, and Trump will return to power then.
Capitol Police said they had received intelligence that a militia group was planning to storm the Capitol a second time in order to make that fantasy a reality, and federal law enforcement was on high alert Thursday because of the threat.
But Ms Pelosi did not seem overly concerned.
“I hope you felt safe coming in today,” she told reporters. “We’re way ahead of where we were last time because we have fences, and we have National Guard and the rest.”
The “last time” Ms Pelosi referred to was 6 January, when a mob of Trump supporters overwhelmed Capitol Police and stormed the building. Five people died in the attack.
In the aftermath of that event, Capitol Police requested that 4,900 National Guard troops remain in Washington, DC until March 12.
On Thursday, Ms Pelosi said it was not up to her how long they would stay after that point.
“The issue about the National Guard is one that will be made by the Capitol Police and the police board and the rest,” she said. “But we should have them here as long as they are needed.”
The Senate, meanwhile, remained in session on Thursday.