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Couy Griffin poses with Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House on September 12, 2019. Photo: White House
Trump supporter Couy Griffin ordered to appear at court hearing for role in U.S. Capitol violence
Founder of ‘Cowboys for Trump’ complains about baby wipes in jail
Monday, February 1, 2021
Indianz.Com

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A prominent Donald Trump supporter charged in connection with the violence at the U.S. Capitol has been ordered to make his first court appearance in his closely-watched criminal case.

Couy Griffin, a Republican county official from New Mexico, has been indicted on a charge of unlawful entry for his role at the U.S. Capitol last month. But he has refused to cooperate with authorities despite being given an initial opportunity to do so on January 21.

“The defendant refused to participate in the hearing and stated on the record that he did not wish to speak with the judge,” U.S. Magistrate Judge Zia M. Faruqui noted in an order on Friday.

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Not only that, Griffin didn’t want to speak with his court-appointed, taxpayer-funded attorney. Instead of accepting a phone call that had been arranged for him, he caused a scene at the jail where he’s being held in the nation’s capital, according to the judge.

“The defendant then yelled at the officer who attempted to assist with the call and began banging on his cell door,” Faruqui wrote in the four-page order.

Through it all, Griffin — who doesn’t wear a mask or a protective face covering, even when in close contact with others — also has refused to take a be tested for COVID-19 since being arrested in Washington, D.C., on January 17. Yet his court-appointed attorney has been trying to get him released from jail despite not knowing whether his health status poses a risk to others.

“Simply taking a COVID-19 test, something hundreds of millions of people have safely done across the world, will allow the defendant to exit isolation,” Faruqui noted.

In seeking his release, attorney David B. Smith did not mention the risk Griffin could pose to the general public, either in D.C. or in New Mexico, where the coronavirus has impacted American Indians and Alaska Natives at disproportionate rates. Instead, he said the “Cowboys for Trump” founder — who portrays himself as a horse-riding, masculine figure — wasn’t doing so well after being placed in isolation by jail officials.

But at least he’s started talking to the court-appointed counsel. That’s apparently how Griffin communicated his unhappiness with his predicament.

“For the first seven days of his confinement, Mr. Griffin represents that he did not receive a shower,” attorney David Smith of Virginia wrote in the 22-page motion for release, filed on last Wednesday.

“He represents that the only toilet available to him has been clogged for his entire detention and that when he complains, he is given baby wipes,” the motion stated.

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Regardless of the sanitary situation, Magistrate Judge Faruqui is taking a stand. He won’t entertain pending matters until Griffin does what the U.S. Constitution provides to him and what federal law requires of all defendants.

“The defendant shall appear via phone or video on February 1, 2021 for his initial appearance,” Faruqui wrote in the order on Friday. “Neither he nor his counsel may waive this right.”

“This matter will not move forward to a detention hearing until the defendant appears,” Faruqui warned. “Failure to comply with such order may result in a finding of contempt.”

Griffin, 47, has been charged with violating federal law at 18 U.S. Code 1752 (a)(1). According to the criminal complaint, he is accused of “Knowingly Entering or Remaining in any Restricted Building or Grounds Without Lawful Authority.”

In a series of posts on social media, Griffin confirmed he was at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, when supporters of Donald Trump forced their way the building, which houses the legislative branch of the U.S. government, in an attempt to overturn the results of the presidential election. The court-appointed attorney continues to insist he never went inside.

After the violence, Griffin returned to New Mexico, where he serves as a county commissioner in the southern part of the state. During a public meeting with fellow officials, he refused to wear a mask and said he was planning to come back to D.C. to protest the inauguration of Joe Biden as president.

“I’m gonna leave either tonight or tomorrow,” Griffin said on January 14. “I’ve got a .357 Henry Big Boy rifle lever action that I’ve got in the trunk of my car and I’ve got a .357 single action revolver, the Colt Ruger Vaquero that I’ll 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 regards to the constitutional law and I have a right to have those firearms in my car.”

Griffin in fact arrived in the nation’s capital a couple of days later. He was arrested on a major street right next to the U.S. Capitol complex, which was shut down to outsiders as a result of the violence earlier in the month.

Still, his attorney claims the Republican official doesn’t represent a flight risk despite having easy access to the U.S. border with Mexico should he end up making his way back to Otero County, where he lives and works.

The county is home to the Mescalero Apache Tribe, where he stirred controversy months before the uprising in D.C. Griffin was banned from the reservation last fall for posting “reckless” and “offensive” videos on social media about the tribe.

Griffin also made derogatory comments about Black athletes, saying they should “go back to Africa” for taking a stand against police violence. His behavioral pattern prompted federal prosecutors to label him as “racist” and potentially dangerous.

“The defendant is the founder and leader of a political committee called, ‘Cowboys for Trump,’ on whose behalf he has engaged in inflammatory, racist, and at least borderline threatening advocacy,” government attorneys said last month.

Griffin’s initial court appearance and detention hearing is scheduled for 3:15pm Eastern on Monday. The public can participate by calling 888-363-4734, a toll-free number, and using the access code 7936689 for Magistrate Judge Zia M. Faruqui’s line.

Dozens of Americans have been indicted in connection with the violence on January 6, with charges ranging from misdemeanors, like the one for Griffin, to more serious ones, like conspiracy and assault on law enforcement. A U.S. Capitol Police officer, Brian Sicknick, was killed during the attack.

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“I’m in the front where do you think I am,” Jorge Riley, a self-proclaimed Native Republican, said from inside the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.

The defendants include Jorge Riley, a self-proclaimed Native Republican who boasted of entering the Capitol building and making his way to the office of Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-California), the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. He was arrested in his home state of California last month but there haven’t been any recent updates to his case, according to the court docket.

Also charged is Jacob Anthony Chansley, also known as Jake Angeli, who bases his outward appearance on a warped interpretation of Native traditions. He is also known to use peyote, a sacrament of the Native American Church, despite not being a citizen of a federally recognized tribal nation.

Like Griffin, he too had trouble in confinement in his home state of Arizona. At one point he was refusing to eat because he hadn’t been provided with organic food.

Chansley, also known as the QAnon Shaman for his promotion of a widely discredited conspiracy theory in which Trump is seen as the only person who can bring perceived criminals to justice, has since participated in an arraignment hearing before Judge Royce C. Lamberth, who handled the landmark Indian trust fund case. Appearing by video on Friday, he pleaded not guilty to all of the counts against him. The next status conference in his case takes place on March 5.

‘The coyote is like the trickster’: ORF Interview with Jake Angeli aka QAnon Shaman aka Jacob Anthony Chansley

Note: Thumbnail photo of Couy Griffin on the grounds of the White House by Shealah Craighead / White House