A former Trump official accused of fiercely battling cops at the Capitol riot must remain in jail pending his trial because he could present “a danger” to the community if he’s released, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.
Federico Klein, who held a top-secret clearance as a mid-level aide in former President Trump’s State Department and also worked on Trump’s 2016 campaign, was denied bail after prosecutors accused him of violently battling police at the January 6 insurrection until he was physically unable to continue, and encouraging others to join in.
Zia M. Faruqui, a magistrate judge in Washington, criticized Klein, 42, for swearing an oath to protect the United States before appearing to “switch sides” during the assault. He noted the Capitol remains in a state of hyper-secure lockdown, and raised concerns about releasing someone accused of rallying others to engage in an attack in the past.
“There is a real danger of violence,” Faruqui said. “If someone were in a position of authority, or a leader, they could go back and seek to conduct such violence.”
Klein is the only Trump administration official charged with participating in the riot that occurred after a mob left a Trump rally held behind the White House and attempted to storm the U.S. Capitol Building. Over 300 people have been criminally charged over the incidents, which left five people dead and dozens of police officers and others injured.
Klein began working for the State Department’s “office of Brazilian and Southern Cone Affairs” in 2017, and he was still a government employee on the day the riot took place. He stepped down from his post later in January, shortly before President Joe Biden was sworn in.
Prosecutors called Klein an “enthusiastic participant” in the Capitol violence during the brief hearing on Tuesday.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jocelyn Bond told the judge that Klein put himself at the front of the crowd battling with police for some 30 minutes. Charging documents assert that Klein entered a tunnel leading into the Capitol and then “physically and verbally engaged with the officers holding the line.”
“He didn’t stop until he had been physically neutralized,” Bond told the judge on Tuesday.
Bond said Klein “completely ignored” police orders to back down, and instead shoved a riot police shield in a doorway to hold it open. Charging documents quote Klein calling back to the crowd behind him, “We need fresh people!”
Klein’s lawyer, Stanley Woodward Jr., disputed the idea that his client might be considered a danger to the community if he were released. Woodward said prosecutors have not presented evidence that Klein fully entered the Capitol building itself. Woodward positively compared his client’s actions to other defendants who have been released on bond pending trial, and pointed to his years of government service.
Woodward said the government hadn’t given any indication of how the accused might have actually come into possession of a police shield—a point the judge did not seem to find convincing. Judge Faruqui shot back that during a riot with police officers, “it does not matter” how someone came into possession of a police shield.
Now, Klein is staring down weeks or months of incarceration until his trial is over, even if he’s eventually found not guilty. He has previously expressed concern over the conditions of his detention, including cockroaches keeping him awake.
During an earlier appearance in court last week, Klein reportedly asked the judge: “I wonder if there’s a place where I can stay in detention where I don’t have cockroaches crawling over me while I attempt to sleep....I mean, I really haven’t slept all that much, your honor. It would be nice if I could sleep in a place where there were not cockroaches everywhere.”
The judge responded that Klein would be transferred to D.C. jail shortly and that officials would address concerns about unsafe or dirty conditions.