Pauline Bauer, a McKean County restaurant owner who threatened to kill then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during the Capitol riot, says the government has no jurisdiction over her.
She’s a “sovereign citizen,” she says. She answers only to God.
But on Tuesday, Bauer is likely to find out that the government very much has jurisdiction over her when a federal judge sentences her for her role in the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection.
U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden almost certainly will give her at least some prison time for storming the Capitol, demanding that police bring out Pelosi and other Congress members to be hanged, shoving a cop and showing open contempt for judges, court officers, federal agents and everyone else.
The question is how much time she should get.
Prosecutors say 78 months, or 6½ years.
“Bauer’s criminal conduct on January 6 was the epitome of disrespect for the law,” said James Peterson, a government trial lawyer. “She further showed disregard for the law after being arrested, so much so that the Court felt that her own unwillingness to follow its orders required her detention pretrial for a period of time.”
He noted that Bauer, 55, wrote a statement to the probation office apologizing for getting “caught up in the crowd” during the riot, saying she just wants to go back to running her pizza restaurant, Bob’s Trading Post, in Kane. She said the business, a community focal point in the tiny town near the Allegheny National Forest, might not survive without her.
Peterson rejected that apology, saying it is the “opposite of remorse.” He said she expresses regret not for what she did but for getting “caught up” in the crowd, as if she had little to do with the violent actions of the Trump throng that day.
“She did not get ‘caught up in the crowd,’ ” he said, “she was a very active member of the crowd. She was with the leaders of the breach of the East Plaza barricades. Bauer started the harassment and the escalation of violence against [Metropolitan Police Department] Officer T.C. and aggravated the situation by her direct conduct.”
She apologized for the pain she caused, but only to her own family, Peterson said. She didn’t apologize to any of the officers or Congress members she helped terrorize.
As for the business, Bauer has raised that defense before when the conditions of her release were revoked because she refused to follow court orders. Peterson said her financial assets as a successful businesswoman far exceed her liabilities, so it wasn’t an issue then and it isn’t now.
He also said that she lied repeatedly on the stand during her trial. Among many examples, she claimed that she didn’t want Pelosi to be dead but wanted “justice to be served” and for Pelosi to be arrested.
But during the rioting she screamed, “Bring Nancy Pelosi out here now. We want to hang that f—ing bitch. Bring her out.”
At the time she was bellowing that threat, she was only a few feet from Pelosi’s office. Other rioters were searching for Pelosi to kill her, Peterson said.
“Bauer’s threat to hang Speaker Pelosi was real, imminent and placed the Speaker of the House in danger,” he said.
When an officer tried to push her away, she screeched at him, “F— you, you son of a bitch, you back up,” and shoved him.
All of those actions were captured on video.
An FBI review of her Facebook posts after the riot also revealed her discussing her actions that day and her anti-government attitudes, including her belief that the election was stolen. She also called Pelosi, whom she apparently believed had the power to overturn the election results, a “cowering bitch” after learning that she had escaped the rioters that day through a tunnel.
Despite her documented actions, Bauer’s lawyer, Komron Jon Maknoon, said his client deserves probation. He said her conduct at the Capitol was “uncharacteristic.” Normally, he said, she’s a law-abiding citizen who respects authority.
“Her actions represented a significant departure from her usual behavior and had a detrimental impact on the overall situation,” he said.
He acknowledged her nasty behavior in court but said she’s been better behaved since she was released on conditions pending trial after spending a year in jail. He said she has “newfound respect for the legal system” and now only wants to “find peace, reconnect with her family and community, and draw strength from her faith.”
He said Bauer and her friends had traveled to a Stop the Steal rally in Harrisburg the day before the insurrection to hear state Sen. Doug Mastriano, a right-wing Donald Trump supporter spouting lies about the election, give a speech. In Washington, he said, they had also hoped to hear Mastriano speak but instead attended the Trump rally.
Bauer entered the Capitol with one friend, William Blauser, a Vietnam veteran who ended up getting probation.
In a separate motion, Maknoon has also asked for a downward departure for Bauer, citing her long work history, her lack of a criminal record and a blood-clotting condition that threatens her health.
Bauer is one of some two dozen people from Western Pennsylvania who stormed the Capitol in support of Trump’s repeated lies, which he continues to spew as he runs for office again.
Overall, more than 1,000 people have been arrested from every state in the U.S., with many now in federal prison, and the FBI is still tracking down more.
Torsten covers the courts for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.