Laptop stolen from Pelosi’s office during Capitol riots
An aide for Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Friday that a laptop was stolen from the Speaker’s office during the riots in the Capitol earlier this week, adding to existing security concerns.
“A laptop from a conference room was stolen,” Drew Hammill, deputy chief of staff to Pelosi, tweeted Friday. “It was a laptop that was only used for presentations.”
A laptop from a conference room was stolen. It was a laptop that was only used for presentations. https://t.co/S7YGPnLaWy
— Drew Hammill (@Drew_Hammill) January 8, 2021
Hammill declined to comment further when contacted by The Hill.
Pelosi’s office was accessed by rioters during the Wednesday storming of the Capitol, which left five dead, including a Capitol Police officer, and forced the evacuation of both House and Senate members.
A picture of a man sitting in the chair of a member of Pelosi’s staff with his feet on their desk went viral, with the same man being seen in videos on social media holding up a piece of stolen mail from Pelosi’s office and saying he left a threatening message on the staffer’s desk.
The man, identified by federal authorities as Richard Barnett, was taken into custody Friday and accused of stealing public property, violent entry and entering a restricted building. Authorities have not commented on whether he was involved in stealing the laptop.
The laptop stolen from Pelosi was not the first device that went missing following the violent riots on Wednesday.
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) tweeted out a video Wednesday night of the destruction to his office in which he noted that the rioters had “stolen the laptop that was sitting on the table next to the telephone.”
House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) initially believed his iPad had been stolen during the breach of the Capitol complex, but CNN reported Friday that a spokesperson for Clyburn said the iPad had been moved by a staffer and found.
Some experts and members of Congress have begun to raise concerns around the potential cybersecurity and data privacy ramifications of technological devices being stolen from members of Congress.
Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) told Protocol Thursday that she had asked the chief administrative officer (CAO) of the House to “to conduct a full assessment of threats based on what transpired yesterday.” A spokesperson for Eshoo did not respond to The Hill’s request for comment.
When contacted about potential security concerns following the riot, a spokesperson for CAO told The Hill that the office “is providing support and guidance to House offices as needed. We are committed to working with all law enforcement agencies in relation to any matters from Wednesday’s breach of the Capitol. However, we cannot comment on any ongoing investigations.”
“The CAO works every day to ensure our systems are prepared for and protected from cybersecurity threats,” the spokesperson added. “During the event, the CAO took steps to ensure that the House network and devices remained secure. We remain vigilant in monitoring the security of the House network, systems, and information.”
Politico obtained an alert sent to House members on Thursday by CAO Catherine Szpindor detailing steps her office took to ensure network security during the rioting, including shutting down “wired network access” to help prevent access to House data.
Szpindor recommended that all House offices inventory their technological devices to ensure nothing was stolen and consider changing passwords if there is any chance any device was physically compromised.
“At this time, there have been no indications that the House network was compromised,” she stressed, despite the recommendations.
-Updated at 5:40 p.m. to include input from Pelosi’s office.