An Oregon state lawmaker who has been charged after he allegedly allowed protesters into the closed state Capitol building during a debate over Covid-19 restrictions is seen in new video appearing to give insights into how to access the Capitol, which led to a scuffle between protesters and police.
Rep. Mike Nearman, a Republican, appears in a 78-minute video in which he is speaking to an unidentified audience about steps to take to set up “Operation Hall Pass,” according to a clip reported by Oregon Public Broadcasting that is posted on YouTube and says it was streamed on December 16, 2020.
It is unclear if he is aware he’s being recorded.
At the beginning of the video, Nearman tells the people in attendance this will allow them to “develop some kinds of tools as far as knowing what the legislature is doing and how to participate in what the legislature is doing.”
Later in the video, the Oregon state representative and the audience were discussing people not being able to access the Capitol because of Covid-19 restrictions. He then begins to detail how to possibly get access into the building and whom to call.
“We are talking about setting up Operation Hall Pass, which I don’t know anything about; and if you accuse me of knowing something about it, I’ll deny it. But there would be some person’s cell phone which might be … but that is just random numbers that I spewed out; that’s not anybody’s actual cell phone. 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, I don’t have anything to do with that, and if I did I wouldn’t say that I did. But anyways that number that I didn’t say was … So don’t text that number but a number like that,” Nearman says to an undisclosed audience.
Although Nearman repeatedly gave the same full phone number, CNN is not publishing it.
He continues, “Make sure to say what entrance you’re at, too,” and then a woman can be heard asking Nearman to repeat the number again. Nearman then says, “Yeah, I didn’t really say a number, but if I were to say a number it might have been something like … and you’d have to say what entrance you’re at, but that’s not really going to happen so just don’t worry about that, nobody said anything.”
The woman can be heard saying, “Just random numbers.”
However, the numbers are not random.
The number that Nearman is heard repeating multiple times is in fact his number, CNN has confirmed.
“You’re not allowed in the Capitol, so that’s, that’s kind of a problem but that’s where we’re at,” Nearman said.
A man from the audience then asks Nearman when would be a good time to show up at the Capitol.
“So if people were to show up at the Capitol, you know hypothetically speaking, would it be better to do it during the week or on the weekends because I notice a lot of rallies and things like that happen on the weekends when no one is working?”
Nearman then goes into a variety or scenarios, but says, “so Wednesday at 10 o’clock in the morning, that’s when I am working at the Capitol, theoretically, if there’s a session going on.”
Surveillance video at the state Capitol allegedly shows Nearman leaving the building on December 21 through a locked door that was surrounded by anti-restriction protesters, which allowed the protesters to enter the building.
Protesters were not able to enter the main chamber, but there was a physical confrontation with officers during which Oregon State Police said, “a protester sprayed some kind of chemical irritant.”
Nearman was charged with first-degree official misconduct and second-degree criminal trespass, according to court records. A charging document obtained by Oregon Public Broadcasting accuses Nearman of “unlawfully and knowingly perform(ing) an act which constituted an unauthorized exercise of his official duties, with intent to obtain a benefit or to harm another.”
Early this year, in a statement reported by The Oregonian, Nearman said he was subjected to “mob justice,” does not condone violence and said the Capitol building is constitutionally required to remain open to the public.
His lawyer, Jason Short, tells CNN that he appeared at the arraignment on Nearman’s behalf. No plea has been entered, he said. His lawyer also did not have a comment about the video.