Howell’s comments are among the first made by a federal district judge in more than 150 criminal siege cases. His decision in the Barnett case is also the first ruling on a Justice Department appeal after a Washington district judge denied his request to keep a riot suspect on Capitol Island in jail. At least four other judges are awaiting decisions from district judges in Washington, D.C., after appeals are filed.
Ms. Howell made it clear that she believes the Mafia is trying to prevent federal lawmakers from performing their duties.
According to her, here in Washington, D.C., we are still living with the consequences of the violence in which this suspect was allegedly involved.
Directly in front of this court are visible reminders of the Jan. 6 riots and the attack on Capitol Hill, the judge said, noting that she can see National Guard troops from a window in her courtroom.
Barnett is charged with trespassing, burglary, disturbing the peace and theft of public property after allegedly taking a letter from Pelosi’s office.
The names of these crimes don’t even match what Mr. Barnett is charged with, Howell said at the hearing.
The judge noted that Barnett bragged to a reporter about writing a dirty note, putting my feet on her desk and scratching my balls in Pelosi’s office. Barnett’s lawyer says he has not seen the report of this quote from his client to the Washington Post.
Barnett’s attorney, Anthony Siano, argued that his client should not be detained any longer. And Barnett, speaking at the conference hearing, said: I have very honest and simple explanations. I’m a good person.
Barnett was not prosecuted and pleaded not guilty.
Prosecutors also allege that Barnett carried a stun gun on Capitol Hill after buying it a few days earlier in preparation for a pro-Trump rally on Jan. 6. After the rally, law enforcement officers searched his home and found a stun gun receipt, but could not find the stun gun he had during the raid, prosecutors said. Barnett warned them that they couldn’t find him.
He too surrendered to law enforcement after the disturbances, although he had scheduled a meeting the day after his contact with authorities, prosecutors added.
According to prosecutors, Barnett has a habit of brandishing weapons at rallies to scare off passersby.
The facts concerning Mr. Barnett make this court very concerned that he is a danger to the community, Mr. Howell said.
He showed equality and contempt for the law, the judge said Thursday: Total disregard for the U.S. Constitution.
CNN’s Rebecca Grandal contributed to this report.