January 18, 2021

County commissioner arrested in D.C. over role in Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol

Couy Griffin at a Trump rally on Jan. 6, 2021, before the storming of the U.S. Capitol.

The FBI arrested Otero County commissioner Couy Griffin, who is also the leader of a pro-Donald Trump political group, over his alleged role in the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol earlier this month.

Griffin was arrested while in Washington D.C. on Sunday.

An FBI affidavit quoted a video posted by Couy Griffin in which he said he intended to return to the U.S. Capitol. In the video, Griffin said Trump supporters could have a “2nd Amendment rally” on the steps of the building and continued, “if we do, then it’s gonna be a 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.”

The FBI said a video, now removed, posted to the Cowboys for Trump Facebook page (which remained online as of Sunday evening) showed Griffin within the restricted area. Griffin claimed he was swept up in the crowd and said he did not enter the U.S. Capitol.

Much of the information from the affidavit came from information provided by Griffin himself, including videos posted to social media. The Cowboys for Trump Twitter account was suspended after the social media service suspended President Donald Trump’s accounts as well as tens-of-thousands of others who spread conspiracy theories.

Griffin’s arrest came just days after he declared during an Otero County commission meeting that he was headed to Washington D.C. for the inauguration of Joe Biden as president. Griffin said he would bring guns with him.

“I’m gonna be there on Jan. 20 … and I’m gonna take a stand for our country and for our freedoms,” Griffin said according to the Alamogordo Daily News

He said he would bring “a .357 Henry Big Boy file lever action” and “a .357 single action revolver, the Colt Ruger Vaquero” with him. Washington D.C. has strict weapons laws.

The FBI affidavit document also quoted Griffin as telling FBI special agents that he hoped a leadership change can happen “without a single shot being fired” but also said there was “no option that’s off the table for the sake of freedom.”

Federal authorities have locked down much of the nation’s capital and warned states of the possibility of armed, violent riots at state capitols and other government buildings.

Ahead of news of the FBI’s arrest of Griffin, New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas called on Griffin to be removed from office. Balderas sent an email to Griffin and cited the county commissioner’s role in the Jan. 6 insurrection, his neglect of his duties as county commissioner and the misuse of public office for personal gain.

“An elected office is a public trust, and no official should use it to encourage violence and attack Americans,” Balderas said. “My office will enforce the rule of law to ensure the public’s confidence.”

Griffin is no stranger to controversy, even before his involvement in the storming of the Capitol earlier this month. 

In May of last year, Griffin declared “the only good Democrat is a dead Democrat.” He claimed he meant this politically, not literally.

In July, while Black Lives Matter protests happened nationwide including in New Mexico, he said that black Americans who supported the playing of the Black National Anthem before NFL games should “go back to Africa.”

The Republican Party of New Mexico distanced themselves from Griffin after those remarks.

The party, however, has stood behind President Donald Trump and his unfounded claims that his loss to Biden was due to election irregularities.