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Speaker Pelosi claims she was ‘set up’ in footage where she was seen violating several laws she promoted

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Emily DeRuy

Palo Alto Daily News, Calif.

Nancy Pelosi’s blowout has blown up.

The speaker of the house said Wednesday she was the victim of a “setup” when she was caught-on camera earlier this week visiting a San Francisco hair salon shuttered by the coronavirus for a shampoo that landed her in hot water.

The security camera clip of her salon visit landed on Fox News, riling up Republicans.

“It was a setup, and I take responsibility for falling for a setup,” Pelosi told reporters during a visit Wednesday to Mission Education Center Elementary School.

“I take responsibility for trusting the word of the neighborhood salon that I’ve been to over the years many times when they said, ‘We’re able to accommodate people one person at a time.’ ”

It wasn’t clear just how Fox News obtained the security camera footage from eSalon on Union Street, showing Pelosi without a mask on, walking inside the salon, fresh from a shampoo, a man with a mask behind her who appears to be the stylist.

Indoor operations resumed Monday at hair salons and barbershops in some Bay Area counties — but not San Francisco, which only gave the green light for salons to open outdoors, starting Tuesday.

But instead of apologizing Wednesday, Pelosi said: “I think that this salon owes me an apology, for setting me up.”

The salon has not responded to interview requests from this news organization, but the owner told Fox News a stylist who rents space from her was responsible for bringing Pelosi in.

“It was a slap in the face that she went in, you know, that she feels that she can just go and get her stuff done while no one else can go in, and I can’t work,” salon owner Erica Kious told Fox News.

For months, salon owners have been forced to shutter their businesses and, in some cases, close them altogether. In May, the federation sued Gov. Gavin Newsom over the shutdowns.

Pelosi was also criticized because she wasn’t wearing a mask when she was caught on camera.

“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 wear a mask. That picture is when I just came out of the bowl.”

Pelosi has for months advocated mask wearing and social distancing to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Many of the Republicans hammering her for the visit have rebuked such protocols.

But they took no time shaming the speaker as a hypocrite.

President Trump predictably took to Twitter: “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 tweeted.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, took a shot, too.

“Americans have shuttered businesses, complied with local orders, and sacrificed everything to defeat the virus,” McCarthy said. “But Nancy Pelosi doesn’t think the rules apply to her. She thinks she deserves special treatment.”

Political pundits said Pelosi’s slip gave the GOP easy ammunition but doubt the damage will be permanent. Bay Area Democrats, however, brushed off the indignation.

“The speaker was invited by the owner and followed those rules,” said Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Dublin. “Also, no man would be subjected to this kind of fake-outrage attack from the right.”

Pelosi insisted that she’s been inundated with support since Salongate broke, including from hair dressers who say they appreciated the attention she’s brought to their industry and the need to get back to work.

But the Professional Beauty Federation of California, which represents stylists, had a different take.

“Our entire industry was appalled at the hypocrisy and flaunting of lockdown orders displayed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi,” the group said in a statement. “How dare our rulers go about their lives, maskless and in open defiance of the rules they have imposed upon our state licensed beauty professionals!”

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©2020 the Palo Alto Daily News (Menlo Park, Calif.)

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