Expressing not just concern but disgust, a federal judge in D.C. on Thursday ordered a man who was photographed with his foot up on a desk in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office during the Capitol insurrection to remain behind bars pending trial.
Barnett is charged with entering the Capitol violently with a dangerous weapon — a stun gun — and stealing government property — a piece of mail from the Democratic leader’s office that he displayed in interviews outside the building. He identified himself to the New York Times as an intruder in Pelosi’s office during the breach.
After the riot, according to prosecutors, Barnett turned off location services on his phone and began paying tolls in cash. When FBI agents came to his home in Arkansas, he told them that he no longer had his cellphone and that they would not find much on his property because he’s a “smart man.” At his detention hearing in Arkansas, his longtime partner admitted that she had relocated his clothing and his guns after his return.
A magistrate judge in Arkansas had approved Barnett’s release, saying he could safely stay with his partner until trial.
Howell disagreed, saying Barnett came to the Capitol “prepared with a weapon and cloaked with entitlement” and “seemed happy to be one of the stars of this revolt,” only to attempt to evade law enforcement after leaving.
The judge, who oversees the courthouse where the alleged rioters will face trial, made personal the toll the assault took on the country and the city of Washington.
“We’re still living here in D.C. with the consequences of the violence in which this defendant is alleged to have participated,” she said. “I can still see heavily armed National Guard troops patrolling from my window.”
More than 150 people are charged with crimes connected to the Jan. 6 attempt to block President Biden from taking office, and prosecutors have agreed to release most of them. But when judges in other districts have rejected prosecutors’ attempts to hold someone in custody, they have appealed to Howell.
Howell described the charges against Barnett as “in some ways too benign-sounding to fairly describe what happened,” which is “destined to go down in the history books in this country.” In an incredulous, angry tone, she read from a vulgar letter Barnett left on the desk, which belongs to a member of Pelosi’s staff.
“Wow,” the judge added. “Brazen, entitled, dangerous.”
Barnett spoke briefly at the hearing, saying that he’s “a good man” and that “people love me.”