A Pennsylvania woman who stormed the US Capitol on January 6 and said she had been looking for Nancy Pelosi “to shoot her in the friggin’ brain” pleaded guilty Tuesday to a low-level misdemeanor for unlawfully protesting on restricted grounds.
Doylestown gym owner Dawn Bancroft entered the guilty plea in DC District Court and was immediately dressed down by a federal judge, who called the violent rhetoric caught in a video selfie “disturbing.”
“That’s really troubling. It’s horrible. It’s outrageous,” District Judge Emmet Sullivan said, before turning his attention to federal prosecutors and asking, “Does it not rise to the level of a threat?”
The Justice Department lawyers said they hadn’t charged Bancroft with threatening Pelosi, a California Democrat who’s the speaker of the House, because Bancroft had uttered the comment while she was exiting the Capitol, potentially making it harder to prove that the threat to Pelosi was serious.
Instead, prosecutors offered what has become the go-to plea bargain for Capitol rioters who aren’t accused of violence. She pleaded guilty to one count of illegally protesting in the Capitol, a misdemeanor that could lead to six months in jail, though defendants rarely get the maximum.
“We’re going to talk about that more at sentencing,” Sullivan said. “I understand you were leaving the Capitol. I understand the government’s logic in not prosecuting you … but I don’t want to, in any way, minimize the very troubling nature of a pretty outrageous statement.”
In an attempt to explain her comments about Pelosi, Bancroft told the judge, “I said it in a jovial way. We were joking and laughing on the way back to the train. It was a dumb, stupid comment. I did not mean it.”
Later in the hearing, she said, “I understand what I did. It was not right. … That is something I will teach to my children. I did it. I am guilty. And I’m going to take the consequences for what I did.”
The Justice Department agreed as part of the plea deal to drop three other misdemeanor charges that had been filed against Bancroft.
She was one of five rioters who pleaded guilty on Tuesday. So far, nearly 620 people have been charged in connection with the riot, and 86 defendants have pleaded guilty, according to CNN’s latest tally.