Richard Barnett, who put foot on desk in Pelosi’s office on Jan. 6, to be sentenced


Washington — An Arkansas man who was photographed propping his foot on a desk in the House speaker’s office during the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol is due to be sentenced on Wednesday, months after his conviction on numerous felony counts.

Richard “Bigo” Barnett is set to appear before Judge Christopher Cooper of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in the afternoon. A photo of Barnett seated at a desk in then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office became one of the most indelible images of Jan. 6.

Prosecutors asked the judge to impose a sentence of more than seven years behind bars, noting he admitted to entering the Capitol wielding a stun gun and carrying an American flag.

“Barnett traveled to D.C. for January 6 with the intent to disrupt Congress, and he anticipated and prepared for violence,” the government argued in its sentencing memorandum. Prosecutors do not allege he engaged in any physical violence that day.  

Earlier this year, a jury found Barnett guilty of eight counts including civil disorder, obstruction of an official proceeding and theft of government property. His defense team said prosecutors went too far in bringing some of the most severe charges and argued jurors in Washington, D.C., were biased against him, echoing a claim made by many Jan. 6 defendants before him.

Richard Barnett inside the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Richard Barnett inside the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

At trial and in court documents, prosecutors said the 63-year-old retired firefighter and bull rider prepared to travel to Washington ahead of Jan. 6 to keep Donald Trump in power. They said he made his way into the Capitol on the day of the riot after yelling at officers outside the building. Once inside, according to the government, Barnett stole an envelope, sat behind a desk in Pelosi’s office and scrawled on a piece of paper, “Hey Nancy, Bigo was here you b*****.” 

It was only after he yelled at police and was hit with chemical spray in the Rotunda that the government says Barnett was forced out of the Capitol. Once outside, prosecutors allege Barnett “bragged” about his entry into the speaker’s office and encouraged the other rioters, saying, “This is a war.” 

Barnett testified in his own defense at trial and underwent a lengthy and, at times, heated cross-examination. He admitted to having regrets for using a vulgar, misogynistic phrase about Pelosi and for putting his feet on the desk. He testified he was a “f***ing idiot” on Jan. 6, but argued his acts were not criminal. 

Prosecutors alleged at sentencing that much of the defendant’s testimony from the stand was not true. Since the January trial, they said, he has “demonstrated his lack of remorse and refusal to take responsibility for his actions.” 

Barnett’s attorneys contended the government “has no evidence that Mr. Barnett perjured himself and the jury did convict Mr. Barnett of perjury.”

After his participation in the riot, according to prosecutors, Barnett even sold signed copies of photos depicting him sitting with his feet on the desk, “a picture that he characterized as ‘the face of the new anti-federalist movement.'” 

His defense team argued that the years-long penalty the government sought was unjust. 

“The worst accusations against Mr. Barnett amounted to 20 minutes of nonviolence in the Capitol, a stolen envelope, and literally seconds of verbal altercation with a police officer,” defense attorneys wrote, arguing he brought the stun gun to Washington for self-protection.

“Mr. Barnett never called for violence. Never called for insurrection. He was mad, but even in his anger his rhetoric was restrained and he never called for actual violence, not on January 6 and not for any time in the future,” his lawyers wrote.

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