Stunning Turn: Marco Rubio’s Former Intern Faces Jan. 6 Charges

The Old Major /
The Old Major /

A South Florida woman who interned for Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has been indicted this month for her alleged involvement in the January 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection.

Barbara Balmaseda, 23, was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges related to storming and entering the Capitol on January 6, accompanied by at least one Proud Boys member, according to a court filing posted on May 22.

Balmaseda, who resides in Miami Lakes, has deep-rooted connections within the Florida Republican Party and served as an intern for Rubio from 2018 to 2019, as reported by the Miami New Times. There has been no comment from Rubio’s office regarding Balmaseda’s arrest.

Federal investigators unearthed a series of messages between Balmaseda and Gabriel Garcia, a known Proud Boys member. These chats, in the weeks leading up to the January 6, revealed her staunch belief that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump. Authorities stated that the two coordinated their travel arrangements to Washington, D.C., for the days surrounding January 6.

Garcia was convicted of two felony charges last year in connection with the Capitol breach. His sentencing is scheduled for September. Authorities obtained messages that included photos of Balmaseda wearing a “Trump 2020” hat with Garcia and others in D.C. on January 6. According to court documents, phone records indicated that her cell phone was near the Capitol during the riots.

Federal investigators reported that while in D.C. on January 6, Balmaseda was photographed with Garcia at Black Lives Matter Plaza before joining a large crowd moving towards the Capitol. She and Garcia allegedly climbed on equipment staged near the Capitol before entering the building as the crowd chanted “Our House!” and “USA.”

After exiting the Capitol, Balmaseda continued to take photographs on the Capitol grounds and later sent memes about the insurrection, as noted in court filings.

In December, Balmaseda was arrested in her hometown of Miami Lakes. This marked the beginning of her legal battle, as she now faces several serious criminal charges. Among these charges is obstruction of an official proceeding, which means she intentionally interfered with the formal processes of Congress. Additionally, she is charged with knowingly entering and remaining in a restricted building, showing that she knew she was trespassing in a secured area. She is also accused of engaging in disorderly conduct within the Capitol, which prosecutors argue was meant to disrupt the ongoing legislative session.

In a statement to The Hill, Balmaseda’s attorney, Nayib Hassan, conveyed that they intend to present a strong defense on her behalf. Hassan said that Balmaseda has pleaded not guilty. Hassan elaborated that their stance is that the government is excessively targeting individuals with charges, even when those individuals have minimal or no direct involvement in the events that took place on January 6, 2021, in Washington, D.C.

Hassan also mentioned that Balmaseda’s legal team is awaiting the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on a challenge to an obstruction law used against several January 6 rioters and Trump, as it “may have a direct impact” on Balmaseda’s case. Trump has previously indicated that he would pardon people who were arrested on January 6 in connection with the Capitol Riots.

The Miami New Times reported that Balmaseda was previously listed as the director-at-large for the Miami Young Republicans and served as regional director for Young Conservatives for Carbon Dividends, an advocacy organization supporting the “pro-growth, pro-innovation Baker-Shultz Carbon Dividends Plan.”

To date, federal prosecutors have charged over 1,425 rioters and obtained more than 1,019 convictions against defendants involved in the Capitol Riots over the past three years. More than 540 rioters have been sentenced to prison, with the durations ranging from a few days to 22 years. Former Proud Boys chairman Enrique Tarrio was convicted of seditious conspiracy along with three other individuals in the organization and received a 22-year federal prison sentence.