Kathy Barnette has been surging in the run-up to Tuesday’s Republican primary for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania. Barnette’s Trumpism has been well-documented, but on Monday NBC News reported that the right-wing lawmaker was even part of the mob that marched to the Capitol last Jan. 6. CNN also reported that the candidate encouraged rally attendees, calling it “our 1776 moment” and she said in an interview that she would lead three buses to the Capitol that day.
NBC News authenticated photos of Barnette in the crowd of Trump supporters, walking alongside Proud Boys, ahead of the attack on the Capitol. The images were initially flagged on Sunday by extremism reporter Chad Loder. There is as yet no evidence that Barnette breached the Capitol.
NEW: @NBCNews has verified these images of Barnette marching toward the Capitol on Jan 6 alongside member of the Proud Boys who were later arrested and indicted for breaking into the building and attacking officers. 1/4 pic.twitter.com/CzGgLOhQWn
— Dasha Burns (@DashaBurns) May 16, 2022
Barnette acknowledged that she was in Washington, D.C., last Jan. 6, but denies entering the Capitol. “Kathy was in DC to support President Trump and demand election accountability. Any assertion that she participated in or supported the destruction of property is intentionally false. She has no connection whatsoever to the proud boys,” her campaign said in a statement provided to NBC News.
Barnette also suggested the deadly insurrection wasn’t really so bad. “I feel about January 6, the way the left feels about the summer of 2020 when you have Black Lives Matter and Antifa and other groups out there looting and robbing and everyone was calling it mostly peaceful protests,” she said, according to NBC News.
“You’re gonna see a bunch of pissed off patriots that are like, ‘We’re not having this anymore,’” Barnette told radio host and conservative activist Ed Martin on January 5, 2021 as CNN reports. “You’re gonna have to hear our voices. And so I’m so very grateful that Americans are not rolling over. Democrats are used to, you know, being loud, whining, calling us names and then our side of the aisle, simply roll over and play dead. I am so proud that there are an innumerable number of Americans who are just like, no, we are not rolling over. We’re not going back to sleep. You’re gonna have to hear us.”
“I believe most people realize that this is our 1776 moment,” she added. “And I’m so grateful to God that back then we had a number of people who were not wimps, weenies and punks, and they stood up against some insurmountable odds. And right now I think a lot of people are looking back to that and recognizing that we are not wimps, weenies or punks, we’re gonna stand up to some – what seems like insurmountable odds. And they’re gonna have to listen to our voices.”
In an interview with Fox News, she again acknowledged she was in Washington, D.C., during the Capitol breach, but stopped short of saying she entered the building and denied she was with the Proud Boys, contradicting the photos obtained by NBC News.
“I was not with the Proud Boys,” she said. “I was out there because I wanted to hear what the president had to say. I was also out there because I’m sure your listeners will understand the first five rights in the First Amendment: Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom to petition your government with grievances, and freedom to assemble, as well as freedom of the press. And so as a law abiding American citizen I had every right to go to a rally in support of my president. That is what I was doing there. We had a wonderful time, we prayed, we listened to what the president had to say. We hung out, we walked and sang songs and then we got on our bus and left and came back home. And so that is the beginning and the end of that.”
The increased focus on Barnette as she takes on Trump-endorsed Mehmet Oz and conservative businessman David McCormack in the Keystone State primary comes following a poll from earlier this month showing a dead heat between the three. Barnette has in the past labelled former President Barack Obama a “Muslim,” called being gay a “culturally degenerate lifestyle,” and flirted with a QAnon conspiracy theory about child trafficking during her 2020 congressional campaign. Regarding the 2020 presidential election, Barnette claimed in a Facebook video from December of that year that Trump had been screwed. “Fight, fight, fight,” she urged viewers. “This is our country. This is not their country. This is our country.”
Barnette would later charter three buses to Washington, D.C., for attendees of the “Stop the Steal” rally that preceded the riot at the Capitol. We now know that she was headed to the Capitol herself.
This story was updated at 8:20 p.m. ET on May 16 to reflect the new information CNN obtained on Barnette’s comments about leading buses to the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 and her denial to Fox News that she was with the Proud Boys on that day.