The FBI said Thursday that it arrested a political appointee of President Donald Trump on charges that he stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 and assaulted an officer with a weapon, marking the first arrest of a Trump administration official in connection with the insurrection.
Federico Guillermo Klein, a former State Department official, made an initial appearance by teleconference on Friday before U.S. Magistrate Zia Faruqui in Washington, where prosecutors said they would seek to jail him pending trial at a hearing next Wednesday.
The court papers obtained by The Washington Post detail Klein’s alleged conduct throughout the siege of the Capitol, tracing his apparent movements and actions from using a police shield to try to pry a door open, to calling for reinforcements from the crowd, to losing his red “Make America Great Again” baseball cap, looking for it amid the chaos, and then grabbing another red hat on the ground that turned out to be the wrong one.
Klein’s arrest is the most direct link yet between the Trump administration and the rioters, despite attempts by some conservatives to dissociate the insurrection from the former president. Many of the 300-plus people who have been charged in connection with the insurrection have described themselves as Trump supporters, while some have ties to extremist groups like the Proud Boys, which Canada has designated a terrorist group, and the Oath Keepers.
Klein, who is also a former Trump campaign employee, did not respond to a request for comment. A State Department spokesman said Klein served as a political appointee in the department from 2017 until his resignation in January. “This is being investigated by FBI, and they are the appropriate agency to answer questions specific to the charges,” the spokesman said.
Klein had a top-secret security clearance that was renewed in 2019, the FBI said. A LinkedIn profile the FBI identified as Klein’s also lists a top-secret security clearance and shows that Klein has been politically active in the Republican Party since at least 2008, when he began volunteering for political campaigns. Before joining the State Department in 2017, Klein worked for the Trump campaign, which paid him a $15,000 salary.
Klein was still employed at the State Department as a staff assistant on Jan. 6 when he joined a mob in a tunnel leading into the U.S. Capitol, the FBI said. Then he allegedly “physically and verbally engaged with the officers holding the line” at the building’s entrance, according to the complaint. After ignoring officers’ orders to move back, he assaulted officers with a riot shield that had been stolen from police, the complaint said, and then used the shield to wedge open a door into the Capitol.
At one point, Klein was caught on video shouting for more insurrectionists to come to the front lines, where officers were struggling to hold back the mob.
“We need fresh people, need fresh people,” he said, according to the complaint.
According to a financial disclosure form filed by Klein, he was appointed as a staff assistant in the State Department on Jan. 22, 2017, days after Trump was sworn in as president. He worked as a special assistant in the Office of Brazilian and Southern Cone Affairs, where he was paid $66,510, according to a ProPublica database of Trump appointees and the criminal complaint.
After the insurrection, Klein continued working in the State Department until Jan. 19, when he resigned the day before President Joe Biden’s inauguration, per the complaint.
Prosecutors said they were seeking to jail him pending trial on grounds that he is charged with assaulting an officer. Assistant Federal Defender Shelli Peterson said Klein was retaining private counsel who would oppose that request, arguing that Klein’s charges do not amount to a crime of violence barring his release under appropriate conditions to ensure public safety.
Klein did not enter a plea. However, he asked the judge at the end of the brief hearing, “I wonder if there’s a place where I can stay in detention where I don’t have cockroaches crawling over me while I attempt to sleep. … I mean, I really haven’t slept all that much, your honor. It would be nice if I could sleep in a place where there were not cockroaches everywhere.”
Faruqui and Peterson told Klein that he would be transferred to D.C. jail shortly and that they would make sure to address his concerns if there were unsafe or dirty conditions. Klein said, “very well I appreciate that.”
The Trump appointee faces several felony charges for his alleged role in the riot, including knowingly engaging in any act of physical violence against any person or property in any restricted building or grounds.
Klein’s mother, Cecilia Klein, told Politico that her son had admitted to being in D.C. on Jan. 6 but said he did not specify whether he had entered the Capitol building.
“Fred’s politics burn a little hot,” she told Politico, which first reported the arrest, “but I’ve never known him to violate the law.”
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The Washington Post’s Matt Zapotosky, Devlin Barrett and Spencer Hsu contributed to this story.