February 16, 2021 at 5:47 pm #100001521zpodiumKeymaster
Prosecutors quickly challenged that ruling, arguing that Powell posed an ongoing threat to the community and that her actions in the days leading up to her surrendering to the FBI indicated the potential for her to abscond. Powell’s attorney, Michael Engel, argued that her surrender actually demonstrated that she was not a flight risk.
“That’s not the conduct of an individual who has a desire to flee,” he said.
But Chief U.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell upheld the Pennsylvania judge’s decision following a roughly 90-minute hearing held over video conference Thursday afternoon.
Howell questioned why the prosecution was seeking to keep Powell detained when other rioters who have come before her, including members of the Proud Boys with potentially more serious charges, were allowed release on bond.
“What makes her so dangerous that she needs pre-trial detention?” the judge said, adding that she was concerned about “equitable treatment.”
She did, however, chastise Powell for her judgment that day, as well as her decision to give an extended interview to The New Yorker’s Ronan Farrow in the aftermath of the ransacking of the Capitol, which Howell said was “downright offensive” and oblivious to the severity of the situation.
In The New Yorker article, Powell portrayed herself as a benevolent actor amid the violence.
“Listen, if somebody doesn’t help and direct people, then do more people die?” she reportedly said.
The prosecution depicted Powell as being one of those leading the charge to storm the Capitol and actively encouraging others to do so. Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Aloi pointed to several videos, including new footage she said came to light only the day prior, as evidence to that effect.
“She appears to be directing the individuals around,” she said. “Her body language and action appears to indicate she is corralling other rioters.”
Howell appeared skeptical of that characterization, but noted that the evidence compiled by the FBI indicated that she “certainly tried to” spur others to overtake the Capitol.
The judge did, however, tack on one somewhat unusual requirement to Powell’s release: Should she leave the house for a court-approved activity, she must wear a mask.
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