WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal judge ruled Wednesday that a lawyer for a Jan. 6 defendant will not be allowed to question witnesses about whether «the woman in the pink beret» on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6 was a government agent.
In a pre-trial hearing, the senior US district judge is pure «speculation,» especially since federal prosecutors charged the woman just days after NBC News reported that her ex identified her after she appeared on a viral tweet from the FBI.
Next week, Bates will oversee the court trial of Darrell Neely, whose lawyer has raised the specter of the girl in the pink beret in court documents. Neely is accused of stealing various items during the attack on the Capitol, but claims that he was acting as a journalist.
NBC News first reported on May 6 that the ex identified Jennifer Inzunza Vargas Geller to the FBI after he saw photos of her in a viral tweet on his friend’s phone while they waited in line at a Joann Fabric store. . Vargas Geller was indicted on May 8, just 11 days after the FBI’s Washington field office released the viral tweet, which racked up more than 7 million views. Social media users joked that the woman looked like a character from a Wes Anderson movie and gave her nicknames like «Eva Braun Insurrection,» «Fascist Matilda,» and «Jailed Emily,» a play on «Emily in Paris.» «.
Kira West, Neely’s lawyer, had asked the government for more information about the woman known to detectives online as #PinkBeret, saying the woman «had been making a fashion statement all over the Capitol grounds” and had lured his client into the building.
In court on Wednesday, West pointed out that #PinkBeret had caused a «flurry of fuss» on social media. Bates quipped in response: «Some of which were caused by you.»
West admitted Neely’s lawyers were «just speculating» whether #PinkBeret was a government operative, but said he couldn’t rule it out entirely. «Government whistleblowers get accused all the time,» he said.
Now that «we know who she is,» West said, she is a «critical and critical fact witness» to Neely’s defense. West said that Neely’s team would try to get her on the stand, although Vargas Geller could invoke her right not to testify, and that it is not clear to him where exactly Vargas Geller is.
«I don’t know what the holdup is and why the government didn’t arrest her,» West said. «I’m going to look for her. I’m going to try to find her.»
in a presentation this week, federal prosecutors wrote that «Ms. Vargas Geller was charged because she committed a crime» and that «there is not a shred of evidence» to support «repeated claims, without ties to the facts, that Ms. Vargas Geller is a member of law enforcement.»
Vargas Geller did not respond to a message requesting comment.
Bates said he had «seen nothing» and «heard nothing» to support the position that the «Pink Beret woman» was a government agent and said West could try to call her as a witness, but he could not ask other witnesses if Vargas Geller was working at the behest of law enforcement. He also said that there would be no basis for presenting evidence at Neely’s trial that had to do only with the conduct of Vargas Geller.
Neely has been charged with six counts, and the government accuses him of stealing a US Capitol Police patch, badge and name tag, and a baseball cap. He has been in pretrial detention since he breached his release conditions last year and will have his trial before Bates next week.
Nearly 1,000 defendants have been charged in connection with the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol, and hundreds of additional rioters have been identified but not yet charged.