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During arraignment, Capitol riot defendant defiantly predicts Trump will win election and shutter Jan. 6 criminal cases

Jan. 6 defendant claims Trump will clear him
Capitol riot defendant believes Trump will clear him 05:38

A high-level U.S. Capitol riot defendant openly and brazenly predicted he'd be cleared of charges by the reelection of former President Donald Trump this fall.  

John Banuelos of Illinois, accused of firing a loaded gun in a mob while outside the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, interrupted his arraignment proceedings Monday with blistering criticism for his court-appointed defense lawyer, denunciations of the District of Columbia and vulgarity in his verbal exchanges with the judge.  

When urged by Washington, D.C. federal judge Tanya Chutkan to be careful about what he said open court, Banuelos told the judge, "Trump is going to be in office in six months, so I have nothing to worry about."

Judge Chutkan again told Banuelos to be cautious with public statements about his case. 

File: Jan. 6 defendant John Banuelos Government exhibit

Though other Jan. 6 defendants have expressed hope for a future presidential pardon, Banuelos' statement was an explicit reference in a judicial setting.

Trump posted on social media earlier this year that among his first acts if returned to the White House would be to "[f]ree the January 6 Hostages being wrongfully imprisoned!"

According to the Justice Department, on Jan. 6, Banuelos was captured on video as he climbed a scaffolding being used to prepare the Capitol for Joe Biden's inauguration. Prosecutors allege he waved to the crowd, pulled out his gun and fired two shots in the air.

The Justice Department filed charges against Banuelos in March, noting that "Banuelos raised his jacket to reveal a firearm in his waistband. He then moved to the south side of the West Plaza, where he was a part of a crowd that had breached the police line." The allegations against him prompted questions about claims by some Trump supporters that Jan. 6 was not an "armed insurrection."

Banuelos faces multiple charges that are uncommon in Jan. 6 cases, including entering a restricted building with a deadly weapon or firearm and unlawful possession of a firearm at the Capitol.

He had multiple outbursts during arraignment on Monday, during which his court-appointed attorney entered a not guilty plea for Banuelos. Thirty-nine-year-old Banuelos derided the public defender assigned to represent him as a "public pretender."   

Banuelos told Judge Chutkan, "They're f***ing with me."

Chutkan disputed the criticism and told Banuelos he's been given high-level, knowledgeable defense attorneys by the court. Banuelos also openly questioned why he's set to be transferred from a holding facility in Chicago to a pretrial detention facility in or new Washington, D.C.  

"I fear for my life in D.C.," he said. He then asked Chutkan, "Why am I still being held   while others aren't?"

Chutkan told Banuelos the Jan. 6 cases are all being prosecuted in Washington, D.C., because that was the location of the crime. Defendants who are ordered held in detention pending trial in Capitol riot cases are transferred to the Washington, D.C.-area, she said.

The judge also told Banuelos that the pretrial detention order was due to a magistrate judge's determination that Banuelos poses a risk to the safety of the community or a flight risk. Chutkan also said she might be asked to review Banuelos' pretrial detention if Banuelos' defense attorney files a motion asking her to do so.

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