House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday that she takes “responsibility for falling for a setup,” following an acknowledgment from her office that she had gotten her hair styled Monday inside a San Francisco hair salon, an apparent violation of the city’s Covid-19 safety regulations that enraged the salon’s owner.
“I take responsibility for trusting the word of a neighborhood salon that I’ve been to over the years, many times, and that when they said 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, it was a setup. So I take responsibility for falling for a setup,” the California Democrat said during a question and answer portion of an event in San Francisco.
Fox News reported that the owner of the salon, Erica Kious, was angry that Pelosi had broken the rules requiring such hair treatments to be done outdoors because of the pandemic. Fox also reported it had obtained security footage showing the speaker inside the salon not wearing a mask.
The speaker said on Wednesday, “I think that they, that this salon owes me an apology for setting up.”
Kious pushed back on Pelosi’s characterization of the incident during a Fox News appearance Wednesday night.
“She had called the stylist in, or her assistant did and made the appointment, so the appointment was already booked, so there was no way I could’ve set that up,” Kious said.
“I’ve had a camera system in there for five years,” she added. “I mean, I didn’t go in there and turn cameras on as soon as she walked in and set her up. So that is absolutely false.”
Pelosi also said on Wednesday, “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 have a mask, for me, for the people I’m encountering, but for my family as well – but I don’t wear it when I’m getting my hair washed, and that picture was when I just came out of the bowl getting my hair washed.”
Pelosi’s staff has insisted the speaker wore a mask while getting her hair done except for a brief period when she had her hair washed. The security footage shows Pelosi not wearing a mask as she walks briefly between two small rooms in the salon, her hair wet as if just washed.
Later Wednesday, Christine Pelosi, the speaker’s daughter, tweeted out a letter from a lawyer purportedly representing a stylist at the salon who says Kious had given approval for the session and had been critical of Pelosi.
CNN has reached out to Kious with a request for comment but has not heard back.
Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff, Drew Hammill, said in an earlier 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,” and that “the speaker complied with the rules as presented to her by this establishment.”
Pelosi added of the incident, “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’ and then they go for me. It was clearly a setup.”
She went on to say, “I think we should use it as an opportunity to say there’s so many people. I don’t know where you all get your hair cut or whatever it is, but we have a wealth of people who engage in these services and, again, the state and the city, depending on the incidence of infection in those areas, decide how they will function. If a salon is saying that we’re able to do this, and they’re not, then they should not have said that, and they should not have been open for me to go there. But we trusted a neighborhood salon that I’ve been to for years.”
Kious told Fox News that stylists in her salon are independent and rent chairs, and that it was one of her independent stylists who told Kious that she was planning to do Pelosi’s hair on Monday.
“I was like, are you kidding me right now? Do I let this happen? What do I do?” Kious told Fox News, while noting that she “can’t control” what her stylists do if they rent chairs from her, as “they’re not paying” at this time.
Kious described Pelosi’s visit as “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.”
The new restrictions in San Francisco say hair salons can operate outdoors, though certain procedures – such as shampooing, color and chemical treatments – are still prohibited.
Some Republicans, including President Donald Trump, have seized on the salon incident. Trump retweeted Fox News’ story about Pelosi less than a week after hosting his Republican National Convention speech on the White House South Lawn without social distancing and with very few masks.
On Capitol Hill, Pelosi has strengthened lawmakers’ restrictions in response to Covid-19, requiring masks on the House floor and in the Capitol hallways. She directed all committee chairs to require mask wearing at committee meetings when attendees weren’t speaking, and she pushed forward rules allowing voting by proxy so that lawmakers who couldn’t travel amid the pandemic could have someone vote on their behalf.
This story has been updated with reaction to Pelosi’s remarks from salon owner Erica Kious.
CNN’s Rashard Rose and Caroline Kelly contributed to this report.