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A Judge Will Let One Of The Alleged Capitol Rioters Go On A "Work-Related Bonding" Trip To Mexico

A federal judge granted Jenny Cudd's request to leave the country for several days after she was arrested for storming the Capitol.

Last updated on February 5, 2021, at 6:22 p.m. ET

Posted on February 5, 2021, at 6:17 p.m. ET

Cudd smiles as she leaves the courthouse
Jacob Ford / AP

Jenny Cudd leaves the federal courthouse in Midland, Texas, on Jan. 13.

WASHINGTON — A federal judge on Friday night approved a Texas woman's request to travel to Mexico for a prepaid "work-related bonding retreat" after she was charged in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the US Capitol.

In a one-page order granting Jenny Cudd's request to leave the country, US District Judge Trevor McFadden noted that prosecutors and the pretrial services office didn't oppose the request.

"The Court also notes the Defendant has no criminal history and there is no evidence before the Court suggesting the Defendant is a flight risk or poses a danger to others," McFadden wrote.

Cudd, who owns a flower shop in Midland, Texas, was originally charged with two misdemeanors, but she was indicted this week on five federal charges in connection with the assault on the Capitol, including obstructing an official proceeding — a felony that carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison — unlawfully going into a restricted area, and violent entry or disorderly conduct. According to charging papers, she was recorded on security cameras inside the Capitol and posted a video on Facebook later in the day describing how she was part of the mob that "pushed and pushed" to force its way in.

Cudd is pictured in the Capitol rotunda
US Department of Justice

Photos of Jenny Cudd inside the Capitol included in charging documents

Following her arrest and initial court appearances, Cudd was allowed to go home while her case is pending. As part of the release conditions ordered by a federal magistrate judge in Washington, DC, on Jan. 21, she must get court permission to travel outside of the continental United States; that's been a standard condition for other Capitol insurrection defendants who were also granted pretrial release.

On Feb. 1, Cudd's lawyer filed a motion asking the judge for permission for her to leave the country and travel to Riviera Maya, Mexico, from Feb. 18 to 21 for a "prepaid ... weekend retreat with her employees." Riviera Maya is a popular tourist spot located along the coast of the Caribbean Sea, south of Cancún.

"This is a work-related bonding retreat for employees and their spouses," her lawyer explained to the judge.

According to Cudd's motion, a prosecutor in her case had said that "the government takes no position" on her request to travel. The pretrial services officer tasked with making sure Cudd complied with her pretrial release conditions didn't object to the request and said they would defer to the court, her lawyer wrote.

The majority of people charged in the insurrection have been allowed to go home while their cases are pending, subject to the same travel restrictions as Cudd. Her request to go on an international beach vacation in the middle of a global pandemic while awaiting trial on federal charges for participating in insurrection was swiftly denounced across Twitter as a symbol of privilege. Eliza Orlins, a former public defender in New York and candidate for district attorney, compared it to a case she'd handled where she had to "beg a judge" to release a teenage client for his father's funeral.

"Two. Systems. Of. Justice," Orlins tweeted.

As a public defender, I represented a 16yo for whom I had to beg a judge for release (with escorts, in handcuffs) to go to his dad's funeral. Meanwhile, someone accused of participating in the insurrection may get to go on a bonding retreat in Mexico. Two. Systems. Of. Justice.

Twitter: @elizaorlins / Via Twitter: @elizaorlins

Cudd's lawyer did not immediately return a request for comment.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.