An Arkansas man who was photographed on Jan. 6, 2021, with his feet on a desk in then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office took the witness stand at his criminal trial Thursday and said he regretted his actions during the attack on the Capitol.
“I shouldn’t have put my feet on the desk,” Richard "Bigo" Barnett told jurors as he testified in his own defense on riot-related felony charges. “At the time I thought it was funny,” he said, but now it just seems “crass.”
Barnett also testified that he would apologize to Pelosi, D-Calif., if she were there in court, and he said he wished he'd never gone to the Capitol that day.
“I regret going,” he said. “It was not what I expected or worth two years of lost life for me and my family.”
Pictures of a smiling Barnett reclining in a chair with his feet up on a desk in Pelosi's office, and what the government referred to as a "stun device" tucked in his pants, became some of the most notorious images of the riot.
Barnett’s lawyer, Joseph McBride, painted a picture Thursday of his client as a man who got swept up in the crowd and had no way to turn back before he was pushed into the Capitol. Barnett testified that going inside the building was “against his instinct,” and he compared the experience to being in a dream.
Barnett also told jurors that he hadn't intentionally sought out Pelosi's office. He said he'd been looking for a bathroom and had knocked politely on the door to Pelosi’s office before he was swept inside by other rioters.
He said he didn’t realize it was Pelosi’s office until he picked up an envelope with her name on it, which he said he did out of curiosity.
Barnett did acknowledge leaving her a “nasty note.” It read, “Nancy, Bigo was here,” and ended with a sexist expletive to refer to Pelosi. Barnett said he regretted using the word.
The regrets, however, were a far cry from Barnett's initial reaction after having left the Capitol, when he bragged about his actions to a New York Times reporter. He told the reporter that he took an envelope from the desk and left Pelosi a quarter in exchange, even though “she ain’t f------ worth it.”
During cross-examination Thursday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Gordon asked Barnett whether he regretted anything else about Jan. 6.
“I regret the disrespect I showed to the officers,” he said. “I regret that the whole thing happened.”
He also denied that he had any knowledge at the time about the electoral vote counting process taking place that day in Congress.
Gordon then showed the jury a Jan. 6 promotional image that Barnett shared on Facebook ahead of the riot, which read: “OPERATION OCCUPY THE CAPITOL.”
“I thought it meant the outside,” Barnett said. “I didn’t really read it closely.”
Gordon pressed Barnett to answer questions about whether he would be willing to fight fellow Americans, the military or police to stop Joe Biden from taking office. Barnett gave halting, evasive answers but never explicitly said no.
Gordon then introduced a screenshot of a Facebook post in which Barnett wrote: “Anyone, and I mean anyone, that does not support the Constitution of the United States of America is my enemy and will be treated as such.”
Barnett's cross-examination is scheduled to resume Friday.