Published 9:33 PM EDT Sep 3, 2020
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s visit to a San Francisco hair salon amid pandemic shutdowns has landed her in hot water, as the president and Republicans accuse her of hypocrisy and she claims she was set up.
It started on Monday, when Pelosi went for a hair appointment after she says she was told by the business that they were able to accommodate her within the local guidelines intended to stop the spread of the coronavirus. But the guidelines prohibited the salon from operating at the time.
Now, both Pelosi and the owner of the salon she visited are facing backlash over the appointment. Here’s what happened:
Pelosi visited hair salon despite closures
Pelosi visited eSalon in San Francisco, where she says she has gone for hair appointments many times, on Monday afternoon. According to the salon’s owner, Pelosi’s assistants had set up the appointment with an independent stylist in advance.
A security camera shows Pelosi walking through part of the salon with wet hair and what appears to be her face mask around her neck rather than covering her face.
The footage was released by Fox News on Tuesday, along with a scathing interview with the salon’s owner calling it a “slap in the face” for Pelosi to get her hair done at the salon when others could not.
According to the owner, Erica Kious, an independent stylist took the appointment with Pelosi. That stylist, who has been identified by his lawyer as Jonathan DeNardo, texted Kious on Sunday night informing her that he had made an appointment with Pelosi’s team for Monday afternoon.
Pelosi’s team was told by the salon that they could have one person in the salon at a time under the current coronavirus guidelines, Pelosi’s spokesperson Drew Hammill said in a statement.
“This business offered for the Speaker to come in on Monday and told her they were allowed by the city to have one customer at a time in the business,” Hammill said.
“I trusted that,” Pelosi later said.
More: Nancy Pelosi calls for apology from San Francisco salon for hair appointment ‘setup’
Did the visit break the rules?
According to Pelosi’s spokesperson, the salon owner and the stylist, the appointment took place the afternoon of Monday, Aug. 31. On that day, San Francisco hair salons were still forbidden from operating due to restrictions in place during the pandemic.
The next day, Sept. 1, the restrictions were amended to allow salons and other personal service providers to operate as long as they do so outdoors, with one customer at a time.
Haircutting and styling services are now permitted, but certain services such as shampooing and hair coloring are still not allowed. Customers and employees are required to wear masks at all times, and those receiving hair services are advised to wear masks with ear loops rather than ties that go behind the head and would interfere.
Pelosi was seen inside the salon, with wet hair and without her face covered. She said her mask was off because her hair had just been washed, but that she “always” has a mask.
“I just had my hair washed. I don’t wear a mask when I’m washing my hair. Do you wear a mask when you’re washing your hair?” she said to reporters on Wednesday.
Pelosi says she was set up
Answering questions at a press conference about the salon appointment, Pelosi claimed that she had been set up by the businesses and called for an apology.
“It was a setup, and I take responsibility for falling for a setup,” Pelosi said on Wednesday.
“I think that this salon owes me an apology for setting me up,” she said.
Pelosi said she had been going to that “neighborhood salon” for years and trusted that what they told her about the guidelines was correct.
Kious, the owner, contested that Pelosi was set up in an interview with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson on Wednesday night. Kious said the appointment was “already booked” by the time she found out about it because the stylist had communicated directly with Pelosi’s team.
“There was no way I could’ve set that up,” Kious said. “I didn’t go in there and turn cameras on as soon as she walked in and set her up.”
DeNardo, who did Pelosi’s hair that day, disputed Kious’ account.
Fact check: Satirical post turned news falsely claims Pelosi will resign if Trump wins
Owner and stylist offer conflicting accounts
Kious said that Pelosi’s appointment was handled by the stylist and that it was “already booked,” but she also provided a screenshot to Fox News showing that DeNardo had given her a heads up about the appointment the night before.
“I was like, are you kidding me right now? Do I let this happen? What do I do?” Kious told Fox News in reaction to the text. Kious claimed that she “can’t control” what her stylists do, without explaining why. She criticized Pelosi in her interview with Carlson, saying, “If she’s in there comfortably without a mask and feeling safe, then why are we shut down?”
Kious said she has received death threats and the business has been flooded with negative reviews. She also said the business has suffered during the shutdown. “This isn’t even political,” Kious said of her disapproval of Pelosi’s visit.
DeNardo claims that Kious OK’d the visit ahead of time on a phone call.
“Ms. Kious took special interest in the appointment during this telephone call, wherein she made several vitriolic and incendiary comments about Speaker Pelosi and her purported responsibility for temporarily suspending operations of Ms. Kious’ business, despite such orders actually being put into place not by Speaker Pelosi, but by Governor Gavin Newsom and San Francisco Mayor London Breed,” DeNardo’s lawyer, Matthew Soleimanpour, said in a statement.
DeNardo also accused Kious of operating the salon throughout the mandated closures. USA TODAY has reached out to Kious and DeNardo.
“The fact that Ms. Kious is now objecting to Speaker Pelosi’s presence at eSalon, and from a simple surface-level review of Ms. Kious’ political leanings, it appears Ms. Kious is furthering a set-up of Speaker Pelosi for her own vain aspirations,” the statement reads.
President Donald Trump has tweeted several times in response to Pelosi’s visit, and his campaign has since used the incident to sell Trump face masks to its supporters.
The president said that Pelosi was being “decimated” for her visit.
“If she was set up then she shouldn’t be leading the House of Representatives. I want the salon owner to lead the House of Representatives because she set up, think of it, she set up the speaker of the House,” Trump said during a campaign event Thursday night. “Nancy, you’re not supposed to get set up, you’re representing our country.”