A federal magistrate judge has ordered the pretrial detention of Taylor Taranto, a Jan. 6 defendant who was arrested last month after approaching former President Barack Obama’s neighborhood in a van with two firearms and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.

Magistrate Judge Zia Faruqui ruled Wednesday that Taranto presents too great a danger to be released while he awaits trial on four misdemeanor charges stemming from his participation in the Jan. 6 mob. Taranto’s arrest followed weeks of erratic behavior that alarmed authorities, including a purported livestream on social media in which he threatened to detonate his vehicle outside a government building in Maryland.

But Faruqui paired his ruling with an extended critique of America’s failure to support military veterans like Taranto, who suffered mental health consequences from combat.

“You have to pay the price for our failure,” Faruqui said. “I’m sorry.”

The magistrate judge also lamented the absence of accountability for “elected officials” who he says misled supporters to believe the 2020 election had been stolen, along with other conspiracy theories.

Taranto is likely to appeal the decision to Chief U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg. But in the meantime, he will be housed in the Washington jail awaiting trial. Faruqui and Taranto’s attorney, Kathryn Guevara, indicated that Taranto was the victim of an assault by other Jan. 6-related inmates Tuesday over an undisclosed conflict.

Guevara argued that prosecutors had “twisted facts” and significantly exaggerated their case against Taranto, relying on his political views — protected by the First Amendment — to cast him as a threat. She noted that prosecutors initially accused Taranto of “trespassing” in a Maryland elementary school near the home of Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) before learning that he entered the school as part of a permitted event.

Prosecutors, however, said Taranto’s presence at the school remained concerning given his livestreamed suggestion that he intended to get close to Raskin’s home.

Faruqui said he wasn’t assured that the views Taranto espoused in social media livestreams — including for days while law enforcement engaged in a multiagency manhunt to locate him — were as simple as First Amendment-protected speech. Taranto’s decision to bring firearms with him into Washington could have led to “catastrophic consequences,” Faruqui said.

Prosecutors say Taranto briefly sought to evade Secret Service agents before his June 30 arrest near Obama’s neighborhood, which they noted was identified in a Truth Social article posted by former President Donald Trump the day before. Taranto, on a livestream, talked about finding tunnel networks to get inside the homes of Obama and longtime Democratic operative John Podesta.

“The temperature is too high in our political discussions,” Faruqui said. “Under the eye of the world, … sometimes they lose their context.”

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