During a hearing on Thursday, the chief judge of the Washington federal court scorched Capitol riot defendants, calling their actions an assault on American democracy. The judge also ruled that a man who had bragged about putting his foot on the desk of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi should remain in prison while he awaits trial, according to CNN.
“This was not a peaceful protest. Hundreds of people came to Washington, DC, to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power,” Chief Judge Beryl Howell of the DC District Court said in the hourlong hearing for Capitol riot defendant Richard Barnett on Thursday.
“We’re still living here in Washington, DC, with the consequences of the violence that this defendant is alleged to have participated in,” she said.
“Just outside this courthouse … are visible reminders of the January 6 riot and assault on the Capitol,” the judge said, noting that she could see National Guard troops from the window in her chambers in the courthouse.
Barnett is accused of breaching the Capitol’s small grounds, aggressive entrance, disorderly behavior, and stealing of public property after he reportedly took a letter from the office of Pelosi.
“The titles of those offenses don’t even properly capture the scope of what Mr. Barnett is accused of doing here,” Howell said at the hearing.
Prosecutors also noted that Barnett took a stun gun to the Capitol after acquiring it many days earlier in preparation for the Jan. 6 pro-Trump protest. Law enforcement raided his house after the protest and discovered a receipt for the stun gun, but the stun gun he used during the raid couldn’t be found, prosecutors said. They were warned by Barnett that they would not be able to locate it.
Barnett also has a history of brandishing weapons at rallies, scaring passersby, prosecutors said.