Capitol riot trial opens for Cowboys for Trump founder – What We Know!

Capitol riot trial opens for Cowboys for Trump founder

WASHINGTON – An elected official from New Mexico has vowed to trip a horse to court docket on Monday for his trial on prices that he illegally entered the U.S. Capitol grounds on the day a pro-Trump mob disrupted the certification of Joe Biden’s presidential election victory.

That’s not the one uncommon characteristic of the case in opposition to Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin, whose trial in Washington, D.C., would be the second among the many a whole lot of individuals charged with federal crimes associated to the Jan. 6, 2021, siege.

Griffin is among the few riot defendants who isn’t accused of coming into the Capitol or partaking in any violent or damaging habits. He claims he has been selectively prosecuted for his political beliefs.

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Griffin, one among three members of the Otero County Fee in southern New Mexico, is amongst a handful of riot defendants who both held public workplace or ran for a authorities management put up within the 2 1/2 years earlier than the assault.

He’s amongst solely three riot defendants who’ve requested for a bench trial, which implies a choose, not a jury, will resolve his case. U.S. District Court docket Decide Trevor McFadden is scheduled to listen to at some point of testimony.

Griffin, a former rodeo rider and former pastor, helped discovered a political committee referred to as Cowboys for Trump. In a court docket submitting, prosecutors referred to as him “an inflammatory provocateur and fabulist who engages in racist invective and propounds baseless conspiracy theories, together with that Communist China stole the 2020 Presidential Election.”

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Griffin’s attorneys, David Smith and Nicholas Smith, say a whole lot if not 1000’s of different individuals did precisely what Griffin did on Jan. 6 and haven’t been charged with any crimes.

“The proof will present that the federal government chosen Griffin for prosecution based mostly on the truth that he gave a speech and led a prayer on the Capitol, that’s, chosen him based mostly on protected expression,” they wrote.

Greater than 770 individuals have been charged with federal crimes associated to the Capitol riot. Greater than 230 riot defendants have pleaded responsible, largely to misdemeanors, and at the least 127 of them have been sentenced. Roughly 100 others have trial dates.

Earlier this month, a jury convicted a Texas man, Man Wesley Reffitt, of storming the Capitol with a holstered handgun within the first trial for a Capitol riot defendant. Jurors additionally convicted him of obstructing Congress from certifying the Electoral School vote on Jan. 6, of interfering with law enforcement officials who had been guarding the Capitol and of threatening his two teenage youngsters in the event that they reported him to legislation enforcement.

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Reffitt’s conviction on all prices might give prosecutors extra leverage in negotiating plea offers in lots of different instances or discourage different defendants from going to trial. The result of Griffin’s trial additionally might have a ripple impact, serving to others to resolve whether or not to let a choose or a jury resolve their case.

Griffin, 48, is charged with two misdemeanors: coming into and remaining in a restricted constructing or grounds and disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted constructing or grounds.

Griffin was joined in Washington by Matthew Struck, who served as his videographer. In a video taken in a car parking zone exterior the Capitol on Jan. 5, Griffin mentioned he got here to Washington for “presumably probably the most historic day for our nation in my lifetime” and trusted that Vice President Mike Pence would “do the appropriate factor.”

After attending President Donald Trump’s “Cease the Steal” rally on Jan. 6, Griffin and Struck walked over limitations and up a staircase to enter a stage that was below building on the Capitol’s Decrease West Terrace for Biden’s inauguration, based on prosecutors.

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Struck is listed as one among three authorities witnesses. He has an immunity cope with prosecutors for his testimony.

“At trial, the federal government expects Matthew Struck’s testimony and movies will present a exact image of the defendant’s actions and his intentions,” prosecutors wrote.

Prosecutors additionally intend to name a Capitol police inspector and a U.S. Secret Service inspector.

Prosecutors wish to use Griffin’s personal phrases in opposition to him. They plan to play video recordings of his statements and actions in Washington.

After climbing over a stone wall and coming into a restricted space exterior the Capitol, Griffin mentioned, “That is our home … we must always all be armed,” based on prosecutors. He referred to as it “an excellent day for America” and added, “The persons are displaying that they’ve had sufficient,” prosecutors mentioned.

A key query in Griffin’s case is whether or not he entered a restricted space whereas Pence was nonetheless current on Capitol grounds, a prerequisite for the U.S. Secret Service to invoke entry restrictions. Griffin’s attorneys say Pence had already departed the Capitol earlier than the earliest that Griffin might have entered a restricted space.

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“The Authorities responds that the Vice President’s exact location finally doesn’t matter,” the choose wrote in an order issued on Friday. “Maybe, though the dearth of readability in regards to the metes and bounds of the restricted space and the Vice President’s actions on January sixth undermine this argument.”

Griffin’s legal professionals additionally say the federal government can’t show that Griffin engaged in any disorderly or disruptive conduct.

“On the contrary, it would see that Griffin peacefully led a prayer on the Capitol steps,” they wrote. “It’ll see that the members of the group listening to Griffin had been calmed and pacified in comparison with protesters round them.”

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Related Press author Jacques Billeaud in Phoenix contributed to this report.

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