The mother-of-eight dubbed the ‘Bullhorn Lady’ who gave instructions to her fellow MAGA rioters with a megaphone has been arrested for her part at the Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6.
Rachel Powell, 40, was charged with obstruction, depredation of government property, entering a restricted building with a dangerous weapon and disorderly conduct.
An arrest warrant was issued for the Pennsylvania woman on Feb. 3 and she was arrested the following day. Police raided the woman’s home Thursday but local reports indicate that she was not at the residence at the time.
Rachel Powell, 40, was charged with obstruction, depredation of government property, entering a restricted building with a dangerous weapon and disorderly conduct for her role in the Capitol riots
Charging documents say that Powell was a part of the group of rioters who used a large pipe ‘as a ramming device to breach windows of the Capitol to gain access.’
According to a criminal complaint that included several grabs from video and cell phone footage, Powell ‘is clearly seen speaking through a bullhorn and giving very detailed descriptions about the layout of the Capitol building to others inside the room.’
Powell was described as being ‘within close proximity to epicenter of visible assaults directed towards law enforcement officers protecting the Capitol.’
The charging documents also say that Powell was a part of the group of rioters who used a large pipe ‘as a ramming device to breach windows of the Capitol to gain access.’
The window cost $1000 and Powell is later seen crawling over a breached window to gain entry to the Capitol.
Powell was described as being ‘within close proximity to epicenter of visible assaults directed towards law enforcement officers protecting the Capitol’
The criminal complaint issued against the mother of eight
Bookstore worker Rachel Powell appeared on FBI wanted posters in a distinctive pink hat after joining the violent mob that invaded the halls of Congress on January 6.
Powell, whose name was given to the FBI by a tipster, was also heard on a recording telling her fellow intruders: ‘People should probably co-ordinate together if you’re going to take this building.’
In an interview with the New Yorker, the 40-year-old acknowledged her role in the insurrection but denied being part of any ‘organized’ plot and claimed that more people might have died if ‘somebody doesn’t help and direct people’.
After not even voting for Donald Trump in 2016, she became more politically active during his presidency and turned into a Covid-denying conspiracy theorist who latched onto the spurious fraud claims spouted by the likes of Alex Jones and Rudy Giuliani.
During Trump’s first campaign, Powell had written on Facebook that she was ‘uncomfortable’ about him and ‘disturbed’ by how many people supported him.
But she gradually became a Trump loyalist over the course of his presidency, attending rallies that involved various far-right groups and conspiracy theorists.
Powell seen entering the Capitol with a large group of rioters
Photos taken from Powell’s social media during the investigation into her role at the riot
An arrest warrant was issued for the Pennsylvania woman on Feb. 3 and she was arrested the following day
During 2020, according to the New Yorker, her Facebook posts turned from harmless musings about yoga, baseball and organic food into hardline political statements.
Powell insisted she did not share the far-right’s racist views, but defended using the N-word on social media by saying: ‘My favorite book is Gone with the Wind and it uses that term freely’.
She also attended anti-mask rallies during the pandemic, raged against lockdowns and was banned from some events for refusing to wear a mask.
Accusing health officials of exaggerating the number of virus deaths, she says she will not get a vaccine and has described herself as ‘unashamedly a super-spreader’.
Powell appeared on an FBI wanted poster because of her role in the January 6 riot, and her name has now been given to the bureau
The November election, in which she voted for Trump, brought her into another world of conspiracy theories that falsely claimed that the vote count was rigged.
She described one of Giuliani’s post-election appearances, at a legislative committee hearing in Gettysburg, as being ‘pretty moving to me’.
‘I learned a lot from Giuliani and people’s testimonies,’ she said, after the former NYC mayor falsely claimed that Biden’s victory in Pennsylvania was marred by fraud.
After Trump failed to persuade state legislatures, the Electoral College or the courts to support his lie of a stolen election, attention turned to the joint session of Congress on January 6 were the results were certified once and for all.
Trump urged his supporters to come to Washington that day and whipped them into a frenzy by repeating his falsehoods in a speech near the White House.
Powell had driven to Washington the day before with an activist she had met at a rally in Gettysburg on July 4, who says he did not join in the invasion of the Capitol.
Powell, pictured during the events of January 6, acknowledged her role in the insurrection but denied being part of any ‘organized’ plot
Powell said she had watched what she called ‘pretty moving’ remarks by Rudy Giuliani at a Pennsylvania legislative hearing on November 25 (pictured) where he made baseless claims about the election results
As the mob attack unfolded, Powell could be seen among a crowd of intruders at a Capitol entrance who were clashing with security services.
She said she was tear-gassed and beaten with a baton as the Trump fanatics forced their way inside, and did not deny shattering a window in the halls of Congress.
In one video, she was heard speaking through her bullhorn, saying she had ‘been in the other room’ and giving directions to her fellow insurrectionists.
‘We got another window to break to make in-and-out easy,’ she said, after talking openly about ‘taking this building’ where Congress was trying to certify the election.
While she spoke, rioters were picking up chairs and overturning furniture in a room inside the Capitol while others were still packed outside the building.
The footage led to her being nicknamed ‘Bullhorn Lady’ by amateur sleuths trying to identify the MAGA rioters.
A tipster who gave Powell’s name to the FBI saw the recording and concluded that she was likely a ‘ringleader’ of a planned attempt to storm the Capitol.
But Powell said: ‘Anything that was said was figured out as time went on. It wasn’t like there was a map or anything.’
Powell was part of the mob that stormed the Capitol while the House and Senate were putting the final seal on Trump’s 2020 election defeat
She also defended her actions in giving instructions to the rioters, suggesting that more people might have died if somebody ‘doesn’t help and direct people’.
Powell said she did not meet with any ‘militias’ after the building was finally secured, but would not say how she had got back to Pennsylvania or with whom.
While Powell’s mother said the family was ‘devastated’ by seeing her face on an FBI poster, Powell herself said her only regrets were about what might happen to her children.
Dozens of people have already been charged in connection with the riot, including off-duty police officers and a retired Pennsylvania firefighter.
Federal law enforcement, journalists and amateur investigators have all pored over the hours of footage from the Capitol to identify the culprits.
A business consultant who gave Powell’s name to the FBI and a University of Toronto researcher both said they had independently worked out her identity.
A week after the riot, Trump became the first president in US history to be impeached for a second time, with even some Republicans backing the move.
The article of impeachment accused him of ‘incitement of insurrection’ and quoted Trump’s own speech from the day of the riot, where he said: ‘If you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore’.
Trump initially said the rioters were ‘very special’ even as he urged them to ‘go home’, and only later said he condemned the attack on the Capitol.
His historic second impeachment trial – the first ever for an ex-president – is due to begin next week.
An improbable two-thirds majority would be needed for a conviction, which could theoretically lead to Trump being barred from holding office again in the future.