WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s iconic photo pointing at President Donald Trump during a contentious White House meeting met its match on Wednesday when a reporter captured a woman in a blue dress standing angelically above a huddle of suited lawmakers, backlit by a single wall sconce that gives the impression of a halo.
The photo, which looks like a painting out of the Renaissance, quickly became a popular meme on #Resistance Twitter, as a symbol of Democrats rolling their eyes, looking to the light, and/or imploring God as Republicans staged a circus-like protest and stormed a private room used in the impeachment inquiry Wednesday morning. By that evening, the tweet had nearly 4,000 likes and more than 1,300 retweets.
But the woman at the center of that photo actually works for one of the Republicans involved in Wednesday’s protest.
“At least I look OK,” Charli Huddleston told BuzzFeed News over the phone Wednesday. The 25-year-old congressional staffer works for Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, the top Republican on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. Jordan, whose committee is involved in the impeachment inquiry, joined the protest of Republicans who broke into the SCIF (sensitive compartmented information facility) Wednesday.
“I was looking for Mr. Jordan because they were calling him to the podium,” said Huddleston. “I knew he wasn’t in the crowd because he was meeting with some middle-schoolers. In addition to the deposition and the SCIF, we have regular committee business as well, so I was running back and forth to the Capitol from Rayburn” (a House office building).
House Republicans were holding a press conference outside to protest the closed-door impeachment investigation (several Republicans, including Jordan, are involved in those proceedings). Huddleston was standing on the middle landing of the winding staircase behind lawmakers looking up to the upper level when a reporter snapped the shot of her.
Huddleston said she wasn’t aware of her newfound celebrity until friends starting sending her the photo.
“I was a little embarrassed that it went viral,” Huddleston said, adding that friends she hadn’t heard from in years reached out to her after seeing the photo. “I guess it’s nice to hear from everyone,” she added.
Sam Brodey, a congressional reporter at the Daily Beast who captured the moment this morning, says it wasn’t intentional — in fact, he didn’t even mean to include Huddleston.
“I was covering this press conference and thought I’d just tweet out a shot of it because it was sort of a scene,” Brodey told BuzzFeed News. “I was in a hurry and definitely didn’t take it all in before I tweeted it out.”
Brodey says the feedback has been “insane” with celebrities like Don Cheadle and Alyssa Milano tweeting the photo and telling followers to caption it.
Huddleston has worked in Washington, DC, for three years, first as a staff assistant for Rep. James Comer of Kentucky. In 2017, she started on the communications team for Republicans on the Oversight Committee and rose to press secretary in mid-2018.
Huddleston is originally from Honolulu but moved to Kentucky with her parents when she was a young child.
If you’re wondering about the electric blue dress, Huddleston was a bit tight-lipped about the source. “Oh, I don’t know. I got it at Nordstrom,” she said.