The founder of the organization “Cowboys for Trump” has been arrested and charged for his alleged involvement in the U.S. Capitol breach, the Justice Department (DOJ) said on Sunday.
Couy Griffin, who is a New Mexico County Commissioner, told FBI special agents during an interview on Jan. 11 that he had traveled to the nation’s capital on Jan. 6 with another person to participate in a protest over election integrity.
When Griffin arrived at the U.S. Capitol, he noticed a large crowd forming around the barricade and that he was “caught up” in that crowd, which pushed its way through the barricades and into a restricted area, he told agents, according to an affidavit by a D.C. Metropolitan Police Department detective.
Griffin said he and his friend did not enter the U.S. Capitol building at any time and remained on the steps outside the building during the breach. During that time he led a group of protesters in prayer using a bullhorn “outside the Capitol, but up where the President is inaugurated at.” Videos of the incident and other open-source materials corroborated Griffin’s statements, according to the affidavit.
He said that police had never asked him to leave the area and he and his friend exited the U.S. Capitol grounds peacefully.
Griffin also spoke about his intention to return to Washington to protest President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration to the FBI special agent as well as during a council meeting in Otero County, New Mexico, on Jan. 14.
“I am going to leave either tonight or tomorrow. I’ve got a .357 Henry big boy rifle … that I got in the trunk of my car, and I’ve got a .357 single action revolver … that I will have underneath the front seat on my right side. And I will embrace my Second Amendment, I will keep my right to bear arms, my vehicle is an extension of my home in regard to the constitution law, and I have a right to have those firearms in my car,” Griffin allegedly said in the meeting, according to the affidavit (pdf).
He had previously indicated his intention to return to Washington on his Facebook page, the detective said. The Epoch Times reviewed the “Cowboys for Trump” Facebook page late Jan. 17, which shows several photos by a member of the group that appears to have traveled to Washington. It is unclear whether the photos and posts were authored by Griffin.
The “Cowboys for Trump” Facebook group did not immediately respond to The Epoch Times’ request for comment about the allegations.
Griffin was arrested on Sunday in Washington and charged with one count of knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful entry, the DOJ said.
This comes several days after the federal authorities arrested and charged former Buzzfeed employee Anthime Joseph Gionet, known as “Baked Alaska,” after he filmed himself participating in the U.S. Capitol breach.
Authorities cited a 27-minute long live stream of the Jan. 6 incident in which Gionet entered several offices and confronted law enforcement officers inside the building, an affidavit alleged.
He was charged with knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.
President Donald Trump on Jan. 13 released another video to condemn the Capitol attack, as well as the violence and lawlessness unleashed by rioters and some protesters on Jan. 6.
“I want to be very clear, I unequivocally condemn the violence that we saw last week. Violence and vandalism have absolutely no place in our country and no place in our movement,” he told the country.
“Making America Great Again has always been about defending the rule of law, supporting the men and women of law enforcement, and upholding our nation’s most sacred traditions and values. Mob violence goes against everything I believe in and everything our movement stands for. No true supporter of mine could ever endorse political violence. No true supporter of mine could ever disrespect law enforcement or our great American flag. No true supporter of mine could ever threaten or harass their fellow Americans.
“If you do any of these things, you are not supporting our movement, you are attacking it and you are attacking our country,” he said.