Jan. 6 cases: Romance novel cover model pleads guilty to dragging cop down Capitol stairs

WASHINGTON — When former President Donald Trump called on supporters who believed his lies about the 2020 election to come to Washington on Jan. 6, 2021, a Michigan bodybuilder-turned-construction worker responded with enthusiasm.

“I’ll be there,” Logan Barnhart wrote in response to a @realDonaldTrump tweet.

When he arrived at the U.S. Capitol, he now admits, he battled police and helped drag an officer down the stairs on the western front, where some of the most barbaric violence of the day took place. Barnhart pleaded guilty Wednesday to assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers using a dangerous weapon before U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan.

Barnhart, 41, admitted that he grabbed an officer by the vest on the back of the neck and helped drag the officer "in a prone position" down the stairs and into the crowd and that he later pushed officers and struck at them with a flagpole.

“Are you pleading guilty because you are guilty?” Sullivan asked during the virtual hearing.

Logan Barnhart at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. (Dept. of Justice)
Logan Barnhart at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. (Dept. of Justice)

“Yes, sir,” responded Barnhart, who took the plea from his car at work. He said everything in the agreed-upon statement of offense was “100% true.”

Barnhart was included in a superseding indictment along with eight other men. Barnhart, the indictment alleged, assaulted a Washington police officer identified by the initials B.M. and engaged in felony civil disorder, as well as committed four misdemeanor offenses.

Depending on how his sentencing guidelines fall and what a judge ultimately decides, he could spend around three to five years in federal prison.

In a previous court filing, prosecutors said B.M. “remembered having his baton grabbed and he was pulled into the crowd” and “being struck in the helmet multiple times with objects.”

Among Barnhart's co-defendants are Jack Wade Whitton and Justin Jersey, who both recently pleaded guilty, as well as Michael Lopatic Sr., who died over the summer. Whitton, who was wearing a Trump hat as he assaulted law enforcement officers, bragged that he "fed" an officer to the mob and later told officers that they were "gonna die tonight."

Internet sleuths investigating the Capitol attack identified Barnhart with the help of facial recognition technology. They had given him the nickname "Catsweat," because he was wearing a Caterpillar brand sweatshirt on Jan. 6. Barnhart kept his sunglasses on for most of the time he was at the Capitol. But earlier in the day, while he was at Trump's "Stop the Steal" event near the White House, a YouTuber panned past his face, which gave sleuths a good image to run.

A facial recognition search then pulled up photos of Barnhart from his modeling career. The sleuths said that to confirm the match, they were able to find Instagram posts showing Barnhart wearing the same sweatshirt and hat he wore on Jan. 6.

Barnhart appeared on the cover of romance novels like “Stepbrother UnSEALed: A Bad Boy Military Romance” and “Lighter,” a book with the slogan “wrong never felt so right.”

An assistant U.S. attorney said during Barnhart's plea hearing Wednesday that the case included evidence from both Barnhart's Google account and his Instagram account.

Barnhart isn't the only model to have been arrested in connection with the Capitol attack. On Tuesday, a jury convicted John Strand, an underwear model, on several charges, including felony obstruction of an official proceeding.

Another Jan. 6 defendant who participated in the assault on the western front of the Capitol was sentenced to more than seven years in federal prison Tuesday. Kyle Young, who brought his 16-year-old son along as he joined the mob in the lower west tunnel on Jan. 6, was charged with handing another rioter a stun gun and grabbing former Officer Mike Fanone as he was dragged into the mob on Jan. 6. Fanone told Young that he hopes he suffers behind bar, saying Young's actions had deprived him of his career in law enforcement.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com