A Pennsylvania woman who allegedly stormed the Capitol and told a police officer to “bring Nancy Pelosi out here now… we want to hang that fucking bitch” has filed court documents claiming to be a divinely empowered entity immune from laws.
Pauline Bauer, a Pennsylvania pizzeria owner, is accused of multiple counts of violent entry, disruptive conduct, and obstruction of Congress after she allegedly broke into the Capitol on Jan. 6. Prosecutors allege that Bauer tried organizing buses to transport people to D.C. for a rally that preceded the riot, and that while in the Capitol rotunda she told police that she wanted to kill House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
But in what experts describe as an inadvisable legal strategy, Bauer has demanded to represent herself in court, appeared to threaten a court clerk with prison time, and declared herself a “self-governed individual” with special legal privileges.
Bauer does not simply appear in court, she clarified during a June 11 proceeding via Zoom. “I am here by special divine appearance, a living soul,” she told a judge that day, while stating that she did not want an attorney.
“I do not stand under the law,” she said. “Under Genesis 1, God gave man dominion over the law.”
Reached for comment, Bauer’s court-appointed lawyer confirmed that she had been tapped as Bauer’s “stand-by” counsel, but declined to comment further. Bauer could not be reached for comment. Last month, she served one night in jail for contempt of court. She was set free after she verbally agreed to the court’s pretrial release conditions, which included turning over her guns to a relative. But her unusual legal tactics appear far from over, according to a new tranche of court filings.
In one document, filed last week, Bauer listed a series of strange alternative spellings of her name in a document that she (incorrectly) claimed freed her from some government control.
Mark Pitcavage, a senior research fellow at the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, said such documents are typical of sovereign citizens, a pseudo-legal movement to which Bauer appears to subscribe.
“Sovereign citizens will often refer to themselves as ‘flesh and blood’ people. They do this because they have this longstanding belief that the government has created artificial versions of them for various nefarious purposes,” Pitcavage told The Daily Beast, noting that the document appeared to be Bauer’s attempt to reclaim all supposed versions of herself.
Though beliefs range throughout the loosely affiliated movement, sovereign citizens typically claim to exist independent of U.S. law, which they frequently describe as illegitimate. Those beliefs are bolstered by an economy of “sovereign” influencers and grifters who offer guides to supposed legal hacks that—if actually executed—tend to land practitioners in jail.
Bauer appears to have attempted multiple avenues of sovereign legal strategy. In one recent filing, she appeared to threaten a court clerk with prison time, noting that it would be the penalty for failing to properly log her filings.
In another new filling, she offered a document that “serves as Proof that my living DNA existed on this Land before there was a UNITED STATES of America or Any STATE Thereof.” The attached document was a family tree showing what Bauer said were ancestors born in Virginia and Pennsylvania before 1776. (Even if accurate, this has no bearing on U.S. law.)
Fringe though the filings are, the documents are interspersed with more common far-right conspiracy theories about the Capitol attack and the 2020 presidential election.
Evidence from before and on Jan. 6 appears to show Bauer involved in the day’s chaos. According to court documents, Bauer attempted to organize busloads of people to attend a D.C. rally that preceded the riot. “Day trip to Washington DC on January 6, 2021 for the mega million rally. Need 51 people to fill a bus,” read a post from her restaurant’s Facebook page. “Contact Pauline at [a number that has since been disconnected].”
During the riot, she allegedly stormed the Capitol rotunda and told a police officer that the crowd would further storm the building if Pelosi and other officials were not released to the mob. “You bring them out or we’re coming in,” she allegedly said, according to a transcript of a police body camera included in the court record. “Bring them out now. They’re criminals. They need to hang.”
She also allegedly boasted about entering the Capitol shortly after the attack. “I am at the capital and was inside. No [sic] of us are armed just pissed that this is what we have to do to take our country back from communism,” she allegedly wrote from a now-deleted Facebook account.
But in subsequent posts, she appeared to downplay her involvement, suggesting a conspiracy to make Trump supporters look bad. “Do you really think anyone could break into the capital,” she allegedly wrote on Facebook. “The antagonists were let in. We all got maced trying to stop what was happening. They used us for a movie so you could watch it on the news.”
Conspiracy theories about the Capitol attack have since become common on the right, even among people who participated. In recent court filings, Bauer attached print-outs from far-right websites like Gateway Pundit, claiming that rioters could not have entered the building without police opening the doors. (Footage from the attack shows rioters breaking windows, climbing into the Capitol, and opening doors from the inside.) Bauer, a pizzeria owner, also included a conspiracy theory that accused Pelosi of committing sex-trafficking at a different pizzeria.
Bauer’s sister, who did not return a request for comment, sent the court a letter claiming that Bauer had become highly political during the COVID-19 pandemic, when her pizzeria had to contend with public health restrictions.
“She became more involved in learning of her constitutional rights as a business owner throughout this ordeal and her involvement with peaceful assemblies led up to the January 6, 2021 rally in Washington, DC,” the sister’s letter read. “She is a firm believer in The Constitution of the United States and The Bill of Rights and is a very vocal woman who expresses her beliefs. Her participation at the January 6, 2021 rally in Washington DC was strictly to support her constitutional rights and I believe that the events that took place were provoked by other agitators in that crowd.”
Bauer’s next in-person court appearance is scheduled for later this month. If she continues to push sovereign citizen legal hoaxes, however, she could be at risk of a new contempt of court charge. Pitcavage noted that some judges penalize would-be sovereigns, especially if they appear to be dragging out court proceedings.
“Their filings and documents, to the layperson, have the look and feel of being actual legal filings, but they’re actually flights of fancy, magical thinking,” Pitcavage said. “As a result, all their arguments fail. Some judges will take the time to address them issue by issue. Some will more abruptly or harshly dismiss them as gobbledegook.”