WASHINGTON — A New Mexico county commissioner and founder of “Cowboys for Trump” will appear before a federal judge in D.C. to stand trial on two charges connected to the Capitol riot.
Couy Griffin, of Otero County, New Mexico, will appear before U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden on Monday for a bench trial on two misdemeanor counts of entering and remaining in a restricted grounds and disorderly and disruptive conduct. In a bench trial there is no jury. McFadden will hear evidence and arguments from both sides and determine Griffin’s guilty or innocence himself.
Prosecutors are expected to tell McFadden that, following the assault on the Capitol, Griffin posted a video to the Cowboys for Trump Facebook page bragging about having a “first row seat” on Jan. 6. In the same video, prosecutors say, he vowed to return on Jan. 20 for the inauguration of President Joe Biden.
“We could have a 2nd Amendment rally on those same steps that we had that rally yesterday,” Griffin said in the video. “You know, and if we do, then it’s gonna be sad day, because there’s gonna be blood running out of that building. But at the end of the day, you mark my word, we will plant our flag on the desk of Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer and Donald J. Trump if it boils down to it.”
In a trial brief filed Thursday, assistant U.S. attorney Janani Iyengar said Matthew Struck, a videographer for Cowboys for Trump who attended the rally with Griffin on Jan. 6, would testify at Griffin’s trial under an immunity agreement.
Although Griffin was never charged with firearm-related offenses, investigators say he spoke repeatedly of his plan to bring guns to D.C. At an Otero County Commissioners Meeting, Griffin said he had a “.357 Henry, big boy rifle lever action” in the trunk of his car and would be keeping a .357-caliber Colt Ruger revolver on the passenger seat.
“And I will embrace my Second Amendment and keep my right to bear arms,” Griffin said during the meeting. “My vehicle is an extension of my home in regard to the constitutional law and I’ve got a right to keep those firearms in my car. I’m going to be in D.C. by God’s grace, God willing.”
Griffin’s attorney, David Smith, is expected to argue the restricted area charge should be dismissed because Vice President Mike Pence had already been evacuated from the Senate Chamber at the point Griffin came to the Capitol. Last week, McFadden told prosecutors if they intended to proceed with the entering and remaining charge, they should have a witness present who could speak with first-hand knowledge of the whereabouts of Pence at the time Griffin was on the grounds – approximately 2:30 p.m. on Jan. 6.
Griffin’s bench trial is set to begin at 9:30 a.m. on Monday. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of one year in prison on each count, with a likely recommended sentencing range of 0-6 months.
Griffin will be the second Capitol riot defendant to take his case to trial. Earlier this month, Guy Reffitt, a Texas Three Percenter, was convicted by a D.C. jury on five felony counts for leading the mob against police on Jan. 6.
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