Pelosi calls private hair salon visit, against local regulations, 'a setup'

Thursday, September 3, 2020

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's stylist is backing her claim that her private visit to a San Francisco hair salon on Monday, in which she received styling indoors despite a city-wide ban on indoor styling, was ultimately "a setup."

He has disputed the account of the salon's owner who appeared Wednesday night on Fox News as the White House and Republicans continued to attack Pelosi, following the lead of President Donald Trump.

ABC News has reached out to the salon owner for comment.

In a press conference Wednesday in San Francisco on coronavirus legislation, Pelosi claimed she was misled by the neighborhood salon who had approved of her visit in advance. Leaked security footage from the appointment showed her at one point wearing a mask around her neck instead of over her face.

"I take responsibility for trusting the word of the neighborhood salon that I've been to, over the years, many times, and that when they said what we're able to accommodate people one person at a time, and that we can set up that time, I trusted that. As it turns out, that was the setup." Pelosi told reporters. "So, I take responsibility for falling for a setup. And that's all I'm going to say on that."

"I think that this salon owes me an apology, for setting me up," she added later.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Thursday said it's Pelosi who should be apologizing to the American people.

"She's demanding an apology from this salon owner, a single mom who started a business?" McEnany asked rhetorically in an interview on Fox News. "No, she owes an apology to the American people. She is so breathtakingly out of touch. That video and her response to that video exposes that."

Pelosi's stylist Jonathan DeNardo in a statement late Wednesday through his lawyer, obtained by ABC News, that despite the salon's owner, Erica Kious, suggesting she had no control of the event, she approved the appointment the night before over the phone and made disparaging comments about the speaker.

"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 from Matthew Soleimanpour read. "Mr. DeNardo's name has now been dragged through the mud for simply following Ms. Kious' recommendations."

The stylist's lawyer goes on to claim that Kious has been violating the health order herself by operating in the salon as far back as April and without taking coronavirus precautions.

Kious told Fox News host Tucker Carlson on Wednesday night before DeNardo's statement was released that the accusation that she set the speaker up was "absolutely false."

Asked how she was set up on Wednesday, Pelosi bristled, asking reporters in turn, "Do you have any questions about how people are dying?"

"There's more to this that I'm not going into as to the motivation of a salon to say to me, 'Yes come in' ... it was clearly a set up. I take responsibility for falling for a setup," she said. "I take responsibility for trusting the word of the neighborhood salon that I've been to for years."

Earlier, Pelosi's office, citing guidance provided to her from the salon, denied she broke their rules, but the president called Pelosi out for having a mask under her chin in the now widely-circulated video footage.

"Crazy Nancy Pelosi is being decimated for having a beauty parlor opened, when all others are closed, and for not wearing a Mask - despite constantly lecturing everyone else," Trump said in a tweet Wednesday morning.

Suggesting the event will harm Democrats in the House, the president added, "We will almost certainly take back the House, and send Nancy packing!"

In security video Fox News said it obtained, Pelosi is seen walking through the eSalon in San Francisco on Monday afternoon with wet hair and with a mask at her neck instead of over her mouth and nose. Her stylist, DeNardo, is seen following her wearing a black face mask. It was unclear from the video whether she had the mask on her face during the rest of the appointment.

"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? I always wear a mask," Pelosi said Wednesday when asked. "And that picture is when I just came out of the bowl."

Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said Tuesday night the speaker followed requirements provided by her stylist and was told the city allowed the salon to have one customer in the business at a time.

"The Speaker always wears a mask and complies with local COVID requirements. 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. The Speaker complied with the rules as presented to her by this establishment," he said in a statement.

But on Tuesday night, Kios told Fox News in a phone interview that the indoor, unmasked visit violated citywide COVID-19 restrictions prohibiting indoor services and blow-drying services at hair salons and was a "slap in the face" to those who can't work or go about their daily lives due to the pandemic.

She said that Pelosi's stylist rents a chair in her salon but operates independently -- a statement the stylist's lawyer later challenged by claiming Kious has been encouraging her employees to break the orders for financial benefit.

A statement from the San Francisco mayor's office posted Friday states that outdoor services at hair salons -- which have been closed since March -- could resume Tuesday -- a day after Pelosi's appointment -- but added that "services may not be provided indoors" and masks must be worn.

"Outdoor personal services that can operate include haircuts, barber services, massages and nail services. Only those services where both clients and providers can be masked at all times are allowed to resume," it reads.

The new guidance which took effect September 1 also states shampooing is not allowed and that stylists must not see multiple customers at once.

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows also weighed in Wednesday morning, calling Pelosi's visit an example of Washington hypocrisy.

"This is typical Washington, D.C. They get on national TV. They preach to the American people that it should be one way and, yet, in private, when the cameras are not rolling and in this case I guess the cameras were rolling, it shows a very different story," Meadows told Fox News. "It's the same thing whether it's in San Francisco with her going into a salon or in the privacy of a negotiating room."

On Tuesday evening, a Twitter account operated by Senate Republicans appeared to quote Kious, also called Pelosi's visit a "slap in the face" to business owners forced to close to slow the spread of COVID-19.

"Speaker Pelosi has pushed policies that would keep our economy closed and our small businesses shut down. But for herself? A salon visit whenever she pleases," the Senate Republicans account tweeted, adding: "A 'slap in the face' indeed."

ABC News' Jordyn Phelps contributed to this report.

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