Judge Orders Release of Man Who Sat at Pelosi's Desk on Jan. 6 Richard Barnett, a supporter of US President Donald Trump sits inside the office of US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi as he protest inside the US Capitol in Washington, DC, Jan. 6, 2021. (Saul Loeb/Getty Images)
Tuesday, 27 April 2021 05:17 PM
A federal judge on Tuesday ordered the release of Richard Barnett, the man who sat in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office during the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol with his feet on her desk and left a note, Politico reporter Kyle Cheney tweeted.
District Judge Christopher Cooper of the D.C. District Court ordered Barnett to home confinement, saying that prosecutors fell short of evidence for detention, Cheney reported.
The judge cited the recent federal appeals court decision that led to the release of Eric Munchel, known as "Zip Tie Guy."
The Munchel ruling raised the bar for detention cases to require specific evidence of a future threat of violence, Cooper said, adding that prosecutors did not meet that standard in Barnett's case.
Barnett, 60, faces a felony charge of entering the Capitol with a dangerous weapon and misdemeanor charges of unlawful entry to a restricted building, disorderly conduct and theft.
Barnett is charged with entering the Capitol building after others had broken into the building during a joint session of Congress to certify the presidential election results. He posted photographs of himself online, smiling and sitting at Pelosi's desk with his feet on her desk. He showed reporters outside the Capitol a piece of mail he said he took from the speaker's desk and said he left a quarter on her desk with a note.
The weapons charge relates to a stun gun that can be seen in his pants in at least one of the photos where he is sitting at Pelosi's desk.
When Chief U.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell originally ordered Barnett held three weeks after the incident, he commented on his actions the day of the attack.
"What happened on that day in the U.S. Capitol was criminal activity that is destined to go down in the history books of our country. … This was not a peaceful protest," Howell said. "We're still living here in Washington, D.C., with the consequences of the violence in which this defendant is accused to have participated."
Barnett, the judge said, "not only entered the Capitol without authorization, but he strutted into the office of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. He felt so entitled, he put his feet on the desk. He felt so entitled, he picked up her mail and walked off with a piece of mail."
The attack occurred following a "Stop the Steal" rally held by supporters of then-President Donald Trump, and at which Trump spoke. The majority of the rally-goers did not participate in the Capitol attack, but critics accused Trump's rhetoric that day and in the time leading up to it of setting off those who participated — a charge that the former president has strongly denied.