Official in election standoff avoids prison in Capitol riot
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WASHINGTON (AP) — An elected official who is a central figure in a New Mexico county’s refusal to certify recent election results based on debunked conspiracy theories about voting machines avoided more jail time on Friday for joining the mob that attacked the U.S. Capitol.
Couy Griffin, who founded the political group Cowboys for Trump, was sentenced to 14 days behind bars, which he has already served.
The punishment for Griffin’s role in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot that delayed the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory and sent lawmakers running for their lives comes the same day Griffin’s Republican-dominated county commission faces a deadline to certify its election results.
Griffin entered a restricted area outside the Capitol but didn’t go into the building itself.
Prosecutors had sought an additional 70 days in jail for Griffin, who already spent 20 days in jail before being released pending his trial. His lawyers asked for only two months of probation.
During the riot, he shouted his unsubstantiated belief that the election was stolen from then-President Donald Trump, climbed a toppled fence and another barrier to access the Capitol steps and used a bullhorn to lead the throngs in prayer.
A judge hearing testimony without a jury convicted Griffin of a misdemeanor for illegally entering the restricted U.S. Capitol grounds. U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden, a Trump nominee, also acquitted Griffin of a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge after a bench trial in March.
Griffin and his two other colleagues on the Otero County Commission in southern New Mexico voted against certifying results from the state’s June 7 primary without raising specific concerns about discrepancies. The state Supreme Court has since ordered the conservative-leaning commission to certify the results before a statewide deadline Friday.