Cowboys for Trump founder faces trial related to U.S. Capitol rise up

WASHINGTON —
An elected authentic from New Mexico heads to trial Monday with a select — now not a jury — set to get to the bottom of if he’s accountable of bills that he illegally entered the U.S. Capitol grounds at the day a pro-Trump mob disrupted the certification of Joe Biden’s presidential election victory.

That isn’t the one unusual function of the case against Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin, whose trial in Washington, D.C., will be the 2nd a number of the many an entire bunch of people charged with federal crimes related to the Jan. 6, 2021, siege.

Griffin is likely one of the few rise up defendants who isn’t accused of having into the Capitol or taking part in any violent or harmful conduct. He claims he has been selectively prosecuted for his political beliefs.

Griffin, thought to be one in every of 3 contributors of the Otero County Rate in southern New Mexico, is among a handful of rise up defendants who each held public place of business or ran for a government control publish inside the 2 1/2 years previous than the attack.

He’s among only 3 rise up defendants who’ve asked for a bench trial, which means a select will get to the bottom of his case with no jury. U.S. District Court docket docket Come to a decision Trevor McFadden is scheduled to hear at some point of testimony.

Griffin, a former rodeo rider and previous pastor, helped came upon a political committee referred to as Cowboys for Trump. He had vowed to succeed in at the courthouse on horseback. Instead, he showed up on Monday as a passenger in a pickup truck that had a horse trailer at the once more.

In a court filing, prosecutors referred to as him “an inflammatory provocateur and fabulist who engages in racist invective and propounds baseless conspiracy theories, in conjunction with that Communist China stole the 2020 Presidential Election.”

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Griffin’s legal professionals, David Smith and Nicholas Smith, say an entire bunch if now not 1000’s of various other folks did exactly what Griffin did on Jan. 6 and feature now not been charged with any crimes.

“The evidence will provide that the government selected Griffin for prosecution essentially in keeping with the fact that he gave a speech and led a prayer at the Capitol, that’s, selected him essentially in keeping with secure expression,” they wrote.

More than 770 other folks were charged with federal crimes related to the Capitol rise up. More than 230 rise up defendants have pleaded accountable, in large part to misdemeanors, and as a minimum 127 of them were sentenced. More or less 100 others have trial dates.

Previous this month, a jury convicted a Texas guy, Guy Wesley Reffitt, of storming the Capitol with a holstered handgun inside the first trial for a Capitol rise up defendant. Jurors moreover convicted him of obstructing Congress from certifying the Electoral School vote on Jan. 6, of interfering with police officers who’ve been guarding the Capitol and of threatening his two teenage kids within the match that they reported him to law enforcement.

Reffitt’s conviction on all bills would possibly give prosecutors further leverage in negotiating plea gives in loads of other instances or discourage other defendants from going to trial. The outcome of Griffin’s trial moreover would possibly have a ripple have an effect on, helping others to get to the bottom of whether or not or to not let a select or a jury get to the bottom of their case.

Griffin, 48, is charged with two misdemeanors: entering and closing in a limited establishing or grounds and disorderly and disruptive habits in a limited establishing or grounds.

Griffin used to be joined in Washington via Matthew Struck, who served as his videographer. In a video taken in a automotive automobile parking space open air the Capitol on Jan. 5, Griffin discussed he were given right here to Washington for “probably necessarily probably the most ancient day for our country in my lifetime” and relied on that Vice President Mike Pence would “do the right kind issue.”

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After attending President Donald Trump’s “Stop the Thieve” rally on Jan. 6, Griffin and Struck walked over obstacles and up a staircase to go into a degree that used to be beneath construction at the Capitol’s Lower West Terrace for Biden’s inauguration, in step with prosecutors.

Struck is indexed as thought to be one in every of 3 government witnesses. He has an immunity care for prosecutors for his testimony.

“At trial, the government expects Matthew Struck’s testimony and films will provide a precise symbol of the defendant’s movements and his intentions,” prosecutors wrote.

Prosecutors moreover intend to call a Capitol police inspector and a U.S. Secret Carrier inspector.

Prosecutors wish to use Griffin’s private words against him. They plan to play video recordings of his statements and movements in Washington.

After mountaineering over a stone wall and entering a limited area open air the Capitol, Griffin discussed, “This is our house we should all the time all be armed,” in step with prosecutors. He referred to as it “a very good day for The united states” and added, “The persons are displaying that they’ve had enough,” prosecutors discussed.

A key question in Griffin’s case is whether or not or now not he entered a limited area while Pence used to be however present on Capitol grounds, a prerequisite for the U.S. Secret Carrier to invoke access restrictions. Griffin’s legal professionals say Pence had already departed the Capitol previous than the earliest that Griffin would possibly have entered a limited area.

“The Government responds that the Vice President’s precise location in spite of everything does now not subject,” the select wrote in an order issued on Friday. “Possibly, although the shortage of clarity regarding the metes and boundaries of the limited area and the Vice President’s movements on January 6th undermine this argument.”

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Griffin’s legal professionals moreover say the government can’t display that Griffin engaged in any disorderly or disruptive habits.

“To the contrary, it’s going to look that Griffin peacefully led a prayer at the Capitol steps,” they wrote. “It will see that the contributors of the crowd taking note of Griffin were calmed and pacified compared to protesters spherical them.”

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Similar Press creator Jacques Billeaud in Phoenix contributed to this document.

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