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Federal prosecutors want Couy Griffin detained pending trial

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

As he faces charges for his alleged role in the U.S. Capitol insurrection, federal prosecutors are seeking to have Otero County Commissioner, Cowboys for Trump founder and former Walt Disney performer Couy Griffin detained until trial, calling him a danger to the community and a flight risk in court documents.

Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin

The move comes as the two other members of the Otero County Commission demanded that Griffin resign immediately.

Griffin was arrested by the FBI in Washington, D.C., on Sunday on one count of knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority. Griffin was allegedly standing in a restricted area of the Capitol during the Jan. 6 riot, according to an affidavit for his arrest. He told FBI agents that he never entered the building.

On Tuesday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Janani Iyengar filed a motion in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia to keep Griffin in custody. Online court records don’t name an attorney for Griffin, and a response to the motion has not been filed.

Describing the 47-year-old’s background, the court document calls Griffin “a former entertainer, having acted for six years as a western or cowboy performer for the Walt Disney Company in Paris, France,” in addition to being a restaurateur and a “self-styled preacher.”

“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,” the document says.

The motion cites Griffin’s public comments about returning to the Capitol with guns on Inauguration Day, saying there will “never be a Biden presidency” and “blood will run” out of the Capitol building. The motion also mentions a past comment from Griffin that “the only good Democrat is a dead Democrat.”

“These and other statements the defendant has made indicate his willingness to threaten, injure, and intimidate, whether individually or through his group, ‘Cowboys for Trump,’ ” the motion says. “… It is reasonable to expect, given the defendant’s history, that he would engage in such conduct to deter prospective witnesses and jurors who might not share his viewpoint.”

Iyengar also argues that Griffin is a flight risk because he has no ties to Washington, D.C., where he must return for trial.

On Tuesday, Otero County Commissioners Gerald Matherly and Vickie Marquardt joined state Attorney General Hector Balderas in asking for Griffin’s resignation from the commission. The commissioners said in a news release that Griffin has devoted himself to promoting Cowboys for Trump instead of serving the citizens of Otero County.

“The people of Otero County deserve an end to this circus now,” the release said. “We call upon Commissioner Griffin to resign his office immediately. If he does not, we will support the recall effort and the removal proceedings of the Attorney General.”

Balderas has said he will take legal action to remove Griffin from office if he does not resign, but he has not said what those legal actions could be.

A hearing on the detention motion has not been scheduled.

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