Pelosi Desk Guy Gets 4-1/2 Years

Seems about right.

NBC News (“Jan. 6 rioter who put his feet on desk in Pelosi office sentenced to 4.5 years in prison“):

The Arkansas man who was photographed on Jan. 6, 2021, with his feet on a desk in then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office was sentenced Wednesday to four and a half years in prison.

Federal prosecutors had asked the judge to sentence Richard “Bigo” Barnett to more than seven years for his actions before, during and after the riot at the U.S. Capitol.

They noted in a court filing that a picture of a smiling Barnett lounging in Pelosi’s office became “one of the best-known images of that day, symbolizing the rioters having wrested control of both the hallowed space and the political process from the nation’s elected leaders.”

Barnett’s lawyers had argued he shouldn’t get more than six months behind bars. “Mr. Barnett is 63-year-old retired firefighter and bull rider from rural Arkansas who came to DC for his very first time to peacefully protest and was unfortunately caught up in the events that turned an ordinary Wednesday into what will forever be known as ‘January 6,'” his lawyers contended.

U.S. District Court Judge Christopher Cooper disagreed, sentencing him to 54 months in prison.

Based on that framing, I’m closer to the side of Barnett’s lawyers than the prosecution. The fact that he happened to be photographed and that the photograph went viral is hardly a reason to put a man in jail for seven years. Six months actually seems about right for that action alone.

But there’s more to it than that.

Barnett was convicted in January on eight charges stemming from the Capitol attack, including theft of government property and entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon; in addition to the stun device, Barnett armed himself with a ten-pound steel pole, prosecutors said.

Barnett became a widely known symbol of the riot when he was photographed reclining in a chair in Pelosi’s office, with his feet propped up, and what the government referred to as a “stun device” tucked in his pants. Before he left Pelosi’s office, Barnett took an envelope that he later displayed for cameras outside the Capitol.

He also acknowledged leaving what he later called a “nasty note” for Pelosi. It read, “Nancy, Bigo was here,” and ended with a sexist expletive to refer to Pelosi.

I figure the note alone merits another six months. And being armed with deadly weapons while in the commission of a crime? Easily another four years.

Barnett expressed remorse for his actions when he took the witness stand in his own defense. “I shouldn’t have put my feet on the desk,” Barnett told jurors. “At the time I thought it was funny,” he said, but after reflection, it seems “crass.”

Well, yeah. But it’s not at all clear that Barnett is particularly remorseful.

After he was convicted, however, he maintained he was the victim of “political persecution” and said the jury that convicted him was “not a jury of my peers.”

Prosecutors pushed back on Barnett’s claims that he’d been unintentionally swept up by the crowd during the Capitol riot and said in court filings that the evidence was clear that Barnett had come to Washington, D.C., that day looking for a fight.

“Barnett was aware of the significance of January 6, 2021. He believed that the United States would be taken over by communists if President-Elect Biden became president and was prepared to do ‘whatever it takes,’ (as he said on social media), including occupying the Capitol, to prevent that from happening,” their filing said.

“He prepared for that violence by arming himself with a stun device and a ten-pound steel pole, both capable of inflicting serious bodily injury. And then he traveled to Washington, D.C. with those weapons,” the filing continued, noting that he only left the Capitol after he was hit by chemical spray – and then bragged about his actions to reporters.

After his arrest, “Barnett sought to profit from his notoriety and criminal conduct,” including by selling autographed pictures of himself in Pelosi’s office, prosecutors said. They added that he’s continued tweeting “disinformation” and conspiracy theories about the Jan. 6 attack since his conviction.

They said those statements show “he is without remorse and would readily engage in similar conduct in the future.”

All in all, four and a half years in prison seems about right. Those who have gotten substantially more than that were ringleaders or committed actual acts of violence.

FILED UNDER: Crime, Law and the Courts, , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. SC_Birdflyte says:

    Reading about him mouthing off turns me into a vindictive SOB. I hope whatever institution where he is incarcerated has correctional officers who don’t tolerate mouthing off.

  2. CSK says:

    What did these idiots think would happen? That they’d get congratulatory notes and a bouquet of roses?

    I’m reminded of the guy who walked out with the Speaker’s podium grinning idiotically at the camera. Did he expect a reward?

  3. MarkedMan says:

    He triggers me in a very specific way – I get irrationally angry when a grown man acts like a petulant teenager who thinks they are cleverer then they are. It embarrasses me as a man, as an adult and as a parent.

  4. CSK says:


    No wonder Trump makes you insane.

  5. Mister Bluster says:

    Lock him up!
    ETA: Header number of comments matches true number of comments. 5

  6. DK says:

    If he and his compatriots were brown and Muslim they’d either have been shot dead on the spot or detained infenitely for their participation in this terrorist attack. So he got off easy. Hope prison de-radicalizes him.

  7. Kathy says:


    Probably. It’s certain many, if not most, of the traitors that day didn’t think they were committing any crimes.

    The rest might have been certain of a branded Cheeto pardon.

  8. Stormy Dragon says:


    Unfortunately, it will probably radicalize him further, and he’ll be a hero when he comes out.

  9. CSK says:


    Why would anyone think that storming the Capitol, breaking and entering private offices, assaulting cops, and stealing private property weren’t crimes?

  10. MarkedMan says:

    @CSK: I know you meant that as a throwaway but FWIW I don’t have much of an emotional reaction to Trump. I think that’s because I don’t perceive him as a complete human being. My emotional reaction is to people who support him or accept him, but, right or wrong, I don’t blame Trump for being the way he is because I think of him as a broken or incomplete person and as a creature of pure id. If a dog is elected President would you blame the dog or the voters?

    I’m not contending I’m correct about this, as I’m no psychologist. But it’s definitely how I feel.

  11. CSK says:


    I understand that. The problem I–and many, many other people–have is fully acknowledging that Trump is not a complete human, so we keep reacting to him as if he were.

  12. Kathy says:


    Oh, pick a pathology. Chances are it will explain a few.

    Beyond they’re white and Republiqan.

  13. KM says:

    “At the time I thought it was funny,”

    Famous last words right up there with “seemed like a good idea at the time”

    They broke into a government building (and they knew they were breaking in, no BS will fly there), went into the office of the person who’s 2nd in line to be POTUS if sh^t goes down during a crisis where they are absolutely not authorized to go under several laws and security concerns and proceeded to be jackasses doing god knows what. We have the photo, yes but we don’t know what else they touched, looked at, rifled through, pilfered, tampered with or potentially defiled.

    4.5 years seems a little light when you understand it wasn’t an LOL-filled romped or even a riot /coup that just kinda petered out as they realized they weren’t getting what they wanted. It was a B&E and data breach with proof the criminals were dumb enough to post. What’s the typical sentence for someone who breaks into your house and posts a selfie of themselves with your work station with the laptop on and papers in plain view? Who definitely rifled with your classified paperwork since they left a note on your stationary and make have taken a peek or two on stuff they aren’t allowed to see?

  14. CSK says:


    Well, basically what they did was loot the Capitol. Aren’t these the very same people who are always yelling that all non-white looters be summarily shot?

  15. just nutha says:

    @SC_Birdflyte: I’d rather the prison have inmates that don’t tolerate mouthing off (and consider themselves to be “loyal ‘Murkuns” who don’t ‘prove of no disloyalty to teh gubmint), but whatevs.

  16. just nutha says:


    If he and his compatriots were brown and Muslim they’d either have been shot dead on the spot or detained infenitely for their participation in this terrorist attack.

    So I guess things still are the way they used to be (with apologies to Stevie Wonder 🙁 )

  17. Mr.Prosser says:

    Under Federal guidelines how much time will this guy actually serve?

  18. Daryl says:

    Stewart Rhodes, the one-eyed Oath Keeper, just got 18 yrs for Seditious Conspiracy.
    The longest sentence, to-date, for a J6er.

  19. Daryl says:

    Stewart Rhodes, the one-eyed Oath Keeper, just got 18 yrs for Seditious Conspiracy.
    The longest sentence, to-date, for a J6er.

  20. Mu Yixiao says:


    Minimum of 80%

  21. Scott says:

    Speaking of domestic terrorists.

    Oath Keepers founder sentenced to 18 years in Jan. 6 seditious conspiracy case

    The founder of the far-right Oath Keepers has been sentenced to 18 years in federal prison in connection with the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol following his conviction on seditious conspiracy.

    The sentence for Stewart Rhodes is the longest imposed on a Jan. 6 defendant to date. “You, sir, present an ongoing threat and a peril to this country and to the republic and to the very fabric of this democracy,” Judge Amit Mehta said before handing down the sentence.

    Rhodes was convicted of seditious conspiracy in November along with Kelly Meggs, a fellow Oath Keepers member who will be sentenced later Thursday afternoon.

  22. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Mu Yixiao:
    Yep. Depending on the state and the crowding conditions you can see a state charge cut way down. Not federal time. Rhodes is 57. He’s in a concrete box until age 71 at the absolute minimum. Unless of course Trump is re-elected.

  23. CSK says:

    As of today, the Qanon Shaman, Jacob Chansley, is a free man.

  24. JohnSF says:


    “…shot dead on the spot…”

    As I think I’ve said before, I suspect had this sort of nonsense been attempted at the Houses of Parliament, the perpetrators would have discovered very swiftly that the “unarmed British police” are, in fact, depending on the circumstance, not unarmed at all.
    And that the Guards Wellington Barracks are within running distance for a reason.