Judge calls Jan. 6 an ‘insurrection’, rules out ‘Cowboys for Trump’ founder

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Otero County Commission Chairman and Cowboys for Trump co-founder Couy Griffin ride a horse on 5th Avenue on May 1, 2020 in New York City.

Jeena Moon | Getty Images

A New Mexico judge on Tuesday said the Jan. 6 Capitol riot was an ‘insurrection’ because he ruled that Otero County Commissioner and ‘Cowboys for Trump’ founder Couy Griffin should be removed. of his duties for participating in the attack.

Griffin is banned for life from holding any federal or state office – including his current role as county commissioner, from which he will be ousted ‘effective immediately’, Judge Francis Mathew ruled.

Griffin became “constitutionally disqualified” from those positions effective Jan. 6, 2021, the judge found.

That day, a violent mob of supporters of former President Donald Trump stormed the US Capitol, forcing lawmakers from their chambers and disrupting the transfer of power to President Joe Biden. Griffin was sentenced in March on a misdemeanor charge of violating restricted Capitol grounds.

The riot and the planning and incitement that led to it “constituted an ‘insurrection,'” under the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, Mathew wrote in the New Mexico 1st Judicial District Court ruling.

The ruling marked the first time a court has found the Capitol Riot met the definition of an insurrection, according to the nonprofit government watchdog group CREW, which represented the plaintiffs who filed the lawsuit in justice to disqualify Griffin.

“This decision makes it clear that any current or former public servant who took the oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution and then participated in the January 6 insurrection can and will be removed from office and barred from government service for their actions,” said CREW President Noah Bookbinder in a press release.

Griffin told CNN on Tuesday that he was ordered to clean his office.

“I’m shocked, just shocked,” Griffin told CNN. “I really didn’t feel like the state was going to act on me like this. I don’t know where I go from here.”

Mathew’s decision also marks the first time since 1869 that a court has disqualified a public official under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, according to CREW.

This section, known as the the forfeiture clauseprohibits any person from holding civil or military office at the federal or state level of the United States if he “has engaged in an insurrection or rebellion against it, or has aided or comforted its enemies”.

Griffin did not enter the Capitol building himself or engage in violence during the Jan. 6 riot, but he did engage in it nonetheless, and his actions “helped the insurgency,” he said. said Mathew.

“By joining the crowd and entering the restricted grounds of the Capitol, Mr. Griffin contributed to the delay of the Congressional election certification process,” the judge wrote. Griffin’s presence “contributed to law enforcement being overwhelmed,” and he also “instigated, encouraged and helped normalize violence” during the riot, Mathew said.

In addition, the judge dismissed as “baseless” the arguments made by Griffin, who represented himself in the case.

Griffin’s attempts to “sanitize his actions are baseless and contrary to the evidence filed by plaintiffs, bearing in mind that he himself did not produce any evidence in his own defense,” Mathew wrote.

His arguments in court were “not credible and amounted to nothing more than an attempt to put lipstick on a pig”, the judge added.

Griffin was stopped less than two weeks after the Capitol Riot. He was found guilty in March and sentenced on June 17 to two weeks in prison, as well as a $3,000 fine and community service.

Griffin, a Republican and a staunch Trump supporter, echoed the former president’s false claims that the 2020 election results were compromised by widespread fraud.

He and the two other GOP members who make up the Otero County Commission refused to certify the results of the most recent primary election, apparently citing conspiracy theories about Dominion voting machines. The commission ultimately voted 2 to 1 to certify the primary results, with Griffin voting “no”.

In 2019, Griffin created Cowboys for Trump, a group that organizes pro-Trump horseback riding parades.

Bookbinder called Tuesday’s decision a “historic victory for accountability for the Jan. 6 insurgency and efforts to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power in the United States.”

“Protecting American democracy means making sure those who violate their oaths to the Constitution are held accountable,” he said.

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