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The man who propped his feet on Nancy Pelosi’s desk as a mob stormed the halls of Congress has testified in his own defense after facing eight counts, including felony charges, tied to his widely photographed role in the Capitol riots.
Richard “Bigo” Barnett – whose defense attorneys compared him to “everyone’s crazy redneck uncle from out of town” – admitted to the jury on 19 January that he “probably shouldn’t have put my feet on the desk”.
He also left a note for then-House Speaker Pelosi, who was huddled with lawmakers during the attack on the US Capitol on 6 January, 2021.
“I wrote her a nasty note, put my feet up on her desk,” he told The New York Times after the mob’s breach of the Capitol that day.
According to images provided by federal prosecutors, the note reads: “Hey Nancy, Bigo was here you biotch.”
He bragged about his actions to the newspaper while holding a letter he said he stole from her desk – “I put a quarter on her desk” – and said he told police “I paid for this, it’s mine” before he was pepper sprayed.
Asked whether he has any regrets from January 6, Mr Barnett told a federal courtroom on Thursday that he regrets going to Washington DC at all for the “misery” it has since brought his family, and for his behaviour inside Ms Pelosi’s office.
He said it he thought it was “funny” that he called her a “biotch” but he admitted that his message was “crass”.
Mr Barnett turned himself over to Arkansas authorities two days after the riot on 8 January, 2021. According to testimony at his trial, when he met with FBI agents in Bentonville, he propped his feet on the desk in front of them and said, “Does this look familiar?”
“I didn’t know how to take it,” FBI Special Agent Jonathan Willett testified.
Mr Barnett at one point also wanted to copyright the note to capitalise on his viral image, according to an audio recording from a jailhouse call made by Mr Barnett while he was in pretrial detention.
Charges against him include obstruction of an official proceeding, theft of government property, and entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon, after he entered the building with a 950,000-volt stun-gun walking staff.
“For Richard, the 2020 election was a knee on the throat of democracy,” according to Mr Barnett’s attorney Joseph McBride.
“He’s not Osama bin Laden,” Mr McBride said during his client’s trial. “He’s a crazy guy from Arkansas who got pushed into the US Capitol.”
Summarising his opening statement for Mr Barnett’s defense, Mr McBride said that trial’s evidence shows that he instead is “everyone’s crazy redneck uncle from out of town.”
Mr Barnett is among several high-profile defendants charged in connection with the Capitol attack, fuelled by former President Donald Trump’s baseless narrative that the 2020 election was “stolen” from him.
Several members of far-right groups the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys are also on trial in Washington DC for seditious conspiracy charges, as federal prosecutors hope to secure another conviction of sedition-related charges after a jury found Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes guilty in November of last year.
This is a developing story