In a Different Capitol Siege, Republicans in Oregon Call for Accountability
After the first video emerged, Mr. Nearman said he did not condone violence but also said he believed that legislative proceedings should be open to the public.
Then last week, new footage surfaced, suggesting not only that he may have expected protesters to enter the building, but that he had offered to help them. The video, earlier reported by Oregon Public Broadcasting, appeared to be streamed online a few days before the December intrusion. It showed Mr. Nearman making public remarks in which he coyly gives out his own cellphone number with a suggestion that anyone who might need to enter the Capitol building could text him if they needed a way inside. He referred to the idea as “Operation Hall Pass.”
“That is just random numbers that I spewed out. That’s not anybody’s actual cellphone,” Mr. Nearman said after giving out his cell number. “And if you say, ‘I’m at the West entrance’ during the session and text to that number there, that somebody might exit that door while you’re standing there. But I don’t know anything about that.”
Barbara Smith Warner, a Democratic lawmaker from Portland who is the House majority leader, said she found it hard to believe that a sitting legislator would put everyone in the building at risk, not only by intentionally opening the door but by doing it in a premeditated way.
“That is mind-boggling,” Ms. Smith Warner said. “If that’s not traitorous, I don’t know what is.”
Mr. Nearman did not respond to messages seeking comment. In an interview with the conservative radio host Lars Larson, Mr. Nearman said he had been “clowning around” in the video and “setting up” for what he had assumed would be a peaceful protest. He said he had been speaking in the video to a group that was not known to be violent.
“I’m willing to have some consequences for what I did, or whatever, but this is super extreme,” Mr. Nearman said.