Tierna Unruh-Enos is publisher at The Paper.

Cowboys for Trump leader and Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin will soon learn his fate for his involvement in the January 6 Capitol riot. Griffin is scheduled for a bench trial on March 21 in front of D.C. Federal Judge Trevor McFadden. He faces charges of knowingly entering a restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds, violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, and parading demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building. Each is a misdemeanor and carries up to a year in federal prison if he is convicted.

How It Started

The Paris Disneyland cowboy is no stranger to controversy. Griffin started Cowboys for Trump with a group of conservatives from southern New Mexico during the Trump administration. In 2019 they gained attention for riding horses to the U.S. capital, highlighting issues they supported such as border security, anti-abortion legislation and preserving gun rights. After that ride, Griffin received a phone call from President Donald Trump. He began garnering support from GOP officials like Rep. Yvette Herrell, who stated on her Facebook page that the C4T endorsement was “one of her proudest.” That statement has since been removed.

Shortly thereafter Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver ordered the group to register as a political committee and to file all delinquent contribution and expenditure reports since their inception. They were ordered to pay the fines associated with failing to register and file in the amount of $7,800. Griffin then filed a federal lawsuit against Toulouse Oliver challenging the legality of the law, saying he was only trying to give his donors privacy. That lawsuit was dismissed. There is now a hearing in that case scheduled for January 19.

After traveling to D.C. to show his support for Trump on January 6, Griffin filmed himself inside secure areas of the Capitol’s inauguration planning area. He subsequently posted a new video on the group’s defunct Facebook page calling for a second rally promising “blood running from the building” and proclaiming that “there would never be a Biden presidency.”

Griffin was arrested on January 17. He told the FBI he was “led by God to lead prayer over the crowd.”

How It’s Going

In August the Associated Press reported federal prosecutors offered Griffin a confidential plea deal. Griffin didn’t take the deal, standing by his argument that he did nothing illegal.

Griffin’s support for Trump started fraying around the edges by October. Griffin attended a QAnon conference in Las Vegas, Nevada and appeared to turn on the former president. After years of unwavering support, Griffin said he was disappointed by what he saw as Trump’s failure to help those arrested in connection to the insurrection. “OK, Mr. President, you were in charge of the law for four years. At the end of your four-year time, the only ones that were locked up were men like me and others like me, that have stood by the president the strongest,” he said.

Through all of this, Griffin has been able to hold on to his commissioner job. A citizen’s group whose efforts to remove Griffin from his elected position on the Otero County Commission failed to gather enough signatures. State Attorney General Hector Balderas has said he would review legal options to remove Griffin from office and says the investigation is still ongoing.

Who’s Next?

There were two other men from New Mexico who have been charged for participating in the attacks at the Capitol. Shawn Witzemann, a self-proclaimed journalist from Farmington, is still awaiting trial along with Matthew Martin, a federal contractor from Santa Fe. The Paper. will be profiling each of them this week as we near the anniversary on January 6.

There are still hundreds of defendants awaiting trial for their participation in the riots. Of those who have been found guilty and sentenced, the Associated Press has reported that the defendants’ social media posts of that day have played a large part in the length of their sentences.

Did you know?
The Paper‘s reporters were the first news outlet to report on Griffin’s videos calling for a new action threatening Congressional leaders and they’ve been on this story ever since. Keep local, independent journalists on the watch.
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