A participant in the Trump-incited attack on the Capitol in 2021 who was infamously photographed with his feet on the desk of a Pelosi staffer inside the Capitol amid the chaos was convicted by a jury Monday on all counts, including the felony offense of obstruction of an official proceeding.
The rioter, Arkansas man Richard Barnett, was also charged with theft of government property for taking an envelope while in the Pelosi office that day. Barnett contended on the stand that he carried the envelope away merely because he was concerned about sanitation, since he bled on it. Despite these claimed concerns, he later presented the envelope to FBI investigators without any kind of ostensibly protective measure, and he also openly showed the item outside the Capitol, as though showing off a trophy. The perceptibly flimsy nature of his claims reflects a lot of what went on here. Barnett also claimed he was physically forced into the Capitol by the surging crowd and, while inside, was just looking for a bathroom, at least initially. The length of his jaunt in the Capitol and his antagonism towards police in the building undercut these ideas.
Barnett showed some remorse — kind of. He said he would apologize to Nancy Pelosi if the legislator appeared in court and characterized his past actions as “some bad mistakes.” He also credited his decision to get behind that desk to a momentary lapse in judgment. The charges of which he was convicted could land him with years in jail once eventually sentenced. Riot participants accused of more serious offenses, like the obstruction and civil disorder charges, have repeatedly received sentences of several years or more. Barnett spoke on the stand in his own defense shortly before the trial portion of his case wound down.
The case evidently went to jurors on Friday, and with the verdict returned on Monday (and excluding the weekend), it doesn’t seem like those who listened to the back-and-forth had much difficulty reaching their conclusions. One of the other past defenses in this case, besides Barnett’s idea he was essentially just a bumbling “idiot,” as he said, was that he couldn’t be guilty of obstruction since Congressional proceedings were already on hold when he went inside. Yet, his presence helped keep Congress from returning, and his participation in the mob outside — where he said he was looking for companions of his before later entering the building — helped build the obvious threat.
Elsewhere, new arrests of Capitol rioters are also continuing, including of three active-duty Marines, none of whom, it seems, were accused of violence, although they went inside. A past crew chief in the Marines whose responsibilities included presidential travel by helicopter — but who left that role early in the Obama administration — was also recently sentenced for joining the violent mob.
Image: Brett Davis/ Creative Commons