Pelosi pulls down paintings of Speakers who were Confederates

After pressing southern states to replace statues of Confederate leaders in the U.S. Capitol, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday ordered the removal of four paintings of past Speakers who had sided with the Confederacy.

"There's no room in the hallowed halls of this temple of democracy to memorialize people who embody violent bigotry and grotesque racism of the Confederacy," Pelosi told reporters.

The four Speakers were Robert Hunter of Virginia, Howell Cobb of Georgia, James Orr of South Carolina, and Charles Crisp of Georgia.  All were Democrats except for Hunter, who was a Whig when he served as Speaker.

Hunter was the Secretary of State for the Confederacy. Cobb was President of the founding convention of the Confederacy. Orr was a Confederate Senator. Crisp fought as a soldier for the Confederacy.

"We must lead by example," Pelosi added, saying any cursory examination of the beliefs of those four Speakers would show why their portraits should not hang on the walls just outside the House Chamber.

Unlike the statues sent to the Capitol by the states, Pelosi as Speaker controls what goes on the walls of the House side of the Capitol, giving her the power to pull down these portraits.

The last time that happened was in 2015, when GOP Speaker Paul Ryan removed the painting of former Speaker Dennis Hastert.

That move came after Hastert pleaded guilty to charges that he had evaded federal banking laws, as well as reports that the former Speaker was paying $3.5 million to someone from his past, possibly to hide claims of sexual misconduct.

Hastert's portrait had occupied prime real estate inside the Speaker's Lobby; the paintings taken down on Thursday were just outside the Chamber on the Democratic side of the aisle.

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