Judge releases ‘Cowboys for Trump’ founder charged in Capitol riot

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Gino Spocchia
·2 min read
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<p>Couy Griffin</p> (AP)

Couy Griffin

(AP)

The founder of the ‘Cowboys for Trump’ group, who is also a New Mexico county official, has been released from custody while awaiting trial on Capitol riot charges.

Couy Griffin was released on Friday by Judge Beryl Howell of Washington DC’s US District Court, who overturned a decision by a magistrates court last week to detain the pro-Trump official.

Mr Griffin, according to the judge, was not the most culpable for besieging Congress on 6 January, having been charged with a misdemeanour for breaching a restricted area around the US Capitol building.

"I'm a little puzzled about the request for pre-trial detention in this case," said the judge, citing the charges against Mr Griffin. “In contrast to most of the brazen rioters, he was not armed and he left the Capitol grounds peacefully.”

She continued: “He was not a participant in the violent break-in at the Capitol or the marauding mob roaming the halls of the legislative branch of government on Jan. 6, and the charge he now faces reflects that fact."

The 47 year-old was not believed to have broken into Congress to carry out damage and disrupt lawmakers from confirming Joe Biden’s election win, citing Donald Trump’s baseless claims about a “stolen” contest, she said.

Mr Griffin, who once said "the only good Democrat is a dead Democrat", was arrested near the Capitol on 17 January with firearms, three days before the inauguration ceremony of Joe Biden.

Considering the case last week, a magistrate argued that Mr Griffin past’s remarks warranted continued detention, no matter the wait for trial, or the charges against him.

Judge Howell, acknowledging that decision, said Mr Griffin's remarks were “deeply disturbing, especially when considered in conjunction with the defendant's decision to return with firearms to DC shortly before the presidential inauguration on Jan. 20”.

She ordered that Mr Griffin, a commissioner in Otero County, New Mexico, surrender his passport and report regularly to federal authorities, and be banned from carrying firearms, as part of his release.

Considering the charge against him, the judge added that Mr Griffin would have ended up spending more time in detention awaiting trial, than the sentence if found guilty, due to a Covid pandemic-related backlog in the courts.

According to Politico, she has taken a tougher stance on those charged with breaking into the US Capitol building, who carried out most of the damage, than those who breached security areas.

More than 100 rioters have since been charged in connection to the riot, with hundreds more as suspects, according to the FBI.

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