WASHINGTON ( Associated Press) – An elected official who was a central figure in a New Mexico district’s refusal to certify recent election results based on evaded conspiracy theories about voting machines, avoided more jail time on Friday because he joined the mob that attacked the American Capitol.
Couy Griffin, who founded the political group Cowboys for Trump, was sentenced to 14 days in prison. U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden gave Griffin credit for the 20 days he has already served in prison after his arrest.
Federal prosecutors and a probation officer both recommended a three-month prison sentence. Griffin was sentenced to a maximum of one year in prison for his conviction for misconduct.
After a trial without a jury, McFadden convicted Griffin in March of entering a restricted area outside the Capitol during the riot on January 6, 2021, but acquitted him of a charge of disorderly conduct. Griffin did not enter the building himself and was not accused of being involved in any violence or destruction.
McFadden, who was nominated by President Donald Trump, also ordered Griffin to pay a fine of $ 3,000 and $ 500 in restitution and to perform 60 hours of community service.
The punishment for Griffin’s role in the riot that delayed the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory and sent lawmakers to their lives came the same day that Griffin’s Republican-dominated district commission had a deadline to certify his election results.
Otero County commissioners voted 2-1 to certify the results at an emergency meeting Friday. Griffin alone refused to certify and joined the meeting remotely hours after his sentencing in Washington. The two who voted to certify said they have no choice under state law and can only be a rubber stamp. They also acknowledged an order from the state Supreme Court and subsequent threats of legal action by the Democratic Attorney General.
Although there was no evidence of fraud, the commission’s action threatened to deprive more than 7,300 voters in the politically conservative area of southern New Mexico.
During his sentencing, Griffin claimed the commission had “found major inconsistencies” in an election audit. He did not elaborate, but said, “All we want is transparency and truth.”
McFadden said he did not take that situation into account in his sentencing of Griffin. But the judge said public officials like Griffin should be kept to a higher standard.
“We need our elected officials to support this country,” McFadden said.
During the riot, Griffin shouted his unfounded conviction that Trump’s election had been stolen, climbed on an upturned fence and another barrier to gain access to the Capitol Stairs, and used a bullhorn to lead the crowd into prayer.
Griffin told McFadden that he only went to the Capitol to pray with others.
“My actions on January 6 were the result of my faith,” he said.
McFadden said the Capitol riot was a “national embarrassment” and called it “ridiculous” for Griffin to claim he did not know he could not be on Capitol grounds on January 6.
“I’m not convinced, even a little bit,” the judge said.
A day after the Capitol siege, Griffin made a video on social media in which he expressed his intention to return to Washington and talked about the prospect of holding a gun rally on the Capitol steps, and said “there will be bloodshed at that building.”
“But at the end of the day, you notice my word, we’ll plant our flag on the desks of Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer and Donald J. Trump if it comes down to it,” Griffin said.
At least 21 rioters have pleaded guilty to a single charge of the same charge of the offense for which Griffin was convicted by the judge. Judges in 14 of those cases have jail terms ranging from 10 days to three months, according to an Associated Press review of court records.
Prosecutors said Griffin showed a lack of remorse for his actions during the attack. Griffin boasted at a meeting of the county’s commission about violating police orders to stay out of the restricted area, spread conspiracy theories about what happened on January 6 and made social media posts that drew the conclusions of the judge questioning his case, prosecutors said.
Defender Nicholas Smith maintained Griffin was remorseful and believed he had received a fair trial.
But the judge said Griffin’s lack of remorse and apparent contempt for the criminal justice system was “very worrying.”
Griffin is one of the few accused of riots who is not accused of entering the Capitol building or engaging in any violent or destructive behavior.
More than 800 people have been charged with federal crimes related to the January 6 riot. More than 300 of them pleaded guilty and nearly 200 were sentenced.
Billaud reported from Phoenix. Associated Press reporter Morgan Lee in Santa Fe, New Mexico, contributed to this report.