This Jan. 6 Rioter Was Just Removed From Office Using the 14th Amendment

Couy Griffin, the founder of Cowboys for Trump, led the crowd in prayer on January 6. He is now barred from ever holding public office.

Otero County Commissioner and founder of Cowboys for Trump Couy Griffin has been removed from office by a New Mexico judge for his participation in the January 6, 2021 attack on the United States Capitol. 

“I’m done. They said I’m out,” Griffin told VICE News on Tuesday morning.

A lawsuit, filed by three New Mexico residents with the aid of a liberal watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) against Griffin, cited Section 3 of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, which has been called the “Disqualification Clause.” It bars elected officials who participate in an insurrection or rebellion against the government from holding office again. It is not a criminal penalty. 

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In a press release, CREW wrote that Griffin’s removal “marks the first time since 1869 that a court has disqualified a public official under Section 3, and the first time that any court has ruled the events of January 6, 2021 an insurrection.”

In videos and images from that day, Griffin is seen standing on the western side of the Capitol building within the restricted area. He scaled a wall to reach the inauguration stage, according to the ruling. Griffin grabbed a bullhorn and spoke to the mob and tried to lead them in prayer, which the ruling says further riled up the crowd.

Griffin said he was informed of his removal by the county manager, who told him his laptop had been seized from his desk at the county building. The county manager did not immediately respond to VICE News’ request for comment.

Couy Griffin in his office in Otero County (Jeff Ricker/VICE News)

Griffin had no lawyer, and defended himself in a bench trial last month. In a 49-page ruling, the judge concluded that Griffin’s testimony characterizing the events and violence of January 6 “has evolved over time in this litigation and is fundamentally inconsistent.” The judge determined that January 6 was, in fact, an insurrection, and that Griffin’s participation in the event disqualified him from holding any public office. Griffin has been previously tried and convicted for his participation in the insurrection. Still, he says he doesn’t regret going to the Capitol on January 6.

“If I felt like my intent justified this measure, then yeah maybe I would say I regret,” he told VICE News. “For them to say that I was there on that day to stop the transition of power, it’s all slanderous. It’s all built on lies. I was concerned election laws had been broken.”

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An effort to recall Griffin last year fell short by 345 votes—something he says has now been overturned by three New Mexico residents who do not live in his county.

“I’m disappointed in the tyranny of one judge can remove the will of the people,” he said, referring to the failed recall. “It makes mistrust the government even more.”

Griffin made national news in June, when he refused to certify the June primary results in Otero county. The state Supreme Court ordered the county commission to certify them, and Griffin’s two colleagues on the commission complied, but he did not.

“All they’re doing with me is laying the groundwork to do this with other people, including President Trump,” he told VICE News of Tuesday’s ruling.

Griffin says lawyers for President Trump, including Sidney Powell, knew of his legal turmoil, and didn’t offer any help.

“I asked her for help and her response to me was ‘I’m too busy, you need to find someone licensed in New Mexico,’” he said.

The next Otero County Commission meeting will be held next Thursday, September 8th. The two remaining commissioners did not respond to a request for comment.

VICE News' Liz Landers interviews Couy Griffin in Otero County (VICE News)

For more on the effects of election denialism and the January 6 insurrection on democracy, in Otero County and around the country, tune into VICE News Reports on Sept. 16.

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Tagged:

January 6, capitol insurrection, Capitol Riot, Couy Griffin, Cowboys for Trump, NEW MEXICO, Otero County

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