A former mid-level State Department aide in the Trump administration who is accused of being on the front line of the "first wave" of the violent mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, will be held in custody pending trial, a judge ordered on Tuesday.
U.S. Magistrate Zia Faruqui said Federico Klein's alleged role in the deadly siege, while he was still a government appointee, makes him a danger to the community. He is the only known Trump appointee to be swept up in the sprawling federal investigation.
"There were enemies at the heart of American democracy, and a person who swore an oath switched sides," Faruqui said.
The 42-year-old is charged with six counts including obstructing an official proceeding, obstructing law enforcement and assaulting an officer with a dangerous weapon.
Court documents, which include multiple screenshots taken from police officers' body camera footage and open source videos posted to YouTube, depict Klein as a conspiracy theorist eager to lead throngs of rioters into the Capitol by violent means. Federal prosecutors said the videos confirmed that Klein was in the tunnel of the Lower West Terrace, physically fighting against the front line of officers, even assaulting officers with a riot shield he'd stolen from them.
Court filings read:
"Klein's willing and enthusiastic participation in violence against police officers protecting a lawful proceeding of Congress, for which he is charged with multiple felonies – including a crime of violence – weighs heavily in favor of detention. Not only was his individual conduct and encouragement to other rioters violent and dangerous, but his actions heightened the overall violence and dangerousness of the day."
"Notably, one video captured Klein encouraging other rioters to attempt to breach the Capitol by shouting, 'We need fresh people, we need fresh people' multiple times."
Klein served as a political appointee in the State Department from 2017 until his resignation on Jan. 19 — 13 days after the insurrection. A spokesperson told NPR he worked as a special assistant in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs and as a staff assistant with the transition team, and that he possessed a Top Secret clearance that had been renewed in 2019. Klein also worked on the 2016 Trump campaign.
"Mr. Klein is disappointed with the result of today's hearing and especially the government's insinuation that the mere allegation of his participation in the events of January 6 renders him a danger to his community," Stanley Woodward, Klein's attorney, told NPR in an email.
In separate interviews with other news outlets, Woodward described the government's case against Klein as "speculative" and said the court should take his client's military and government careers into account when considering his continued detainment. And, although he did not concede that it was Klein who was pictured in the evidence that has so far been presented, Woodward argued that the "chaos" of the scene made it difficult for the rioters to follow the directions shouted at them by police officers.
But prosecutors argued that his past is precisely what makes Klein such a menace.
"This was not a youthful indiscretion or somebody who didn't know better," Assistant U.S. Attorney Jocelyn Bond said, adding that Klein fought officers in "hand-to-hand combat" for half an hour while urging others to join him. Bond also said Klein "essentially attacked his own government."
The judge said Klein "was literally directing people" to confront officers.
In an interview last week, Cecilia Klein said she was shocked by her son's arrest.
"I was watching like everybody else on Jan. 6 as those numb-nuts climbed the walls. ... It never occurred to me that Fred would be part of this," she said.