House Speaker Nancy Pelosi responded on Wednesday to criticism of her trip to a San Francisco hair salon — which was not cleared to reopen for indoor service and where she appeared momentarily maskless. Her defense: “It was a setup.”
The California Democrat insisted that she had followed the salon’s rules as they were presented to her and that she trusted an establishment that she has patronized “over the years, many times.” Pelosi said she was told that the city would allow one customer in the shop at a time, and she complied with those guidelines. However, San Francisco — a city Pelosi has represented for more than three decades — allowed salons to open for outdoor service only starting Tuesday, the day after her visit.
“As it turns out, it was a setup,” Pelosi said of the appointment at a Wednesday news conference on school reopening. “So I take responsibility for falling for a setup, and that’s all I’m going to say about that.”
Fox News aired surveillance footage from eSalon showing Pelosi walking through the business with a mask around her neck and a masked stylist nearby. Republicans, including President Trump, have pounced on the story, accusing Pelosi of hypocrisy.
Erica Kious, eSalon’s owner, told Fox that she rents space to independent stylists and was incensed that Pelosi came in when the rest of Kious’s business had to remain closed.
“It was a slap in the face,” she said.
But Pelosi, responding to reporters’ repeated questions about the visit, said there is “more to this that I’m not going into as to the motivations of the salon,” but she declined to elaborate. Kious did not respond to a request for comment.
“I think that this salon owes me an apology,” Pelosi said.
She said she was wearing a mask during the appointment, except while she was having her hair washed.
“I don’t wear a mask when I’m washing my hair,” she said. “Do you wear a mask when you’re washing your hair? I always have a mask.”
Pelosi said that her critics are using the visit as a distraction and that Republicans should instead help pass the Heroes Act, a $3 trillion coronavirus aid package
“They want to jump on this,” she said. “I think it’s really important for us to pass the bill so in a scientific way we can address the virus and bring people back to work.”