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Judge removes Trump supporter from elected office for Jan. 6 participation

A crowd outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. (Image from FBI affidavit/TNS)
September 06, 2022

A New Mexico judge ordered Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin, who trespassed at the U.S. Capitol when it was breached on Jan. 6, 2021, to be removed from office this week.

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Judge Francis Mathew ordered Griffin out of office on Tuesday, using the 14th Amendment’s Disqualification Clause, which states:

No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

Mathew ordered that Griffin “shall be removed from his position as an Otero County Commissioner effective immediately.”

WUSA9 reported Griffin was convicted in a federal court in March for a single misdemeanor count of entering and remaining in a restricted area. Griffin was acquitted on a second misdemeanor count for disorderly conduct. Griffin was sentenced in June to 14 days in jail (though that time was already served), one year of supervised release, 60 hours of community service, a $3,000 fine, and $500 restitution.

While dozens of people have been charged with violent behavior at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, a larger number of defendants have been charged with entering a restricted area, parading around the capitol and obstructing proceedings.

No single defendant has been convicted of insurrection, though 11 people have been charged with seditious conspiracy out of 910 people charged so far. Two of those 11 have pleaded guilty to those sedition charges.

Judge Mathew determined that the totality of the events at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, including planning and mobilization related to the events of that day “were an ‘insurrection’ against the Constitution of the United States” and that Griffin “engaged in” that insurrection with his act of trespass.

Mathew said a specific criminal conviction is not a prerequisite to use the 14th Amendment’s Disqualification Clause.

Mathew said Griffin had “aided the insurrectionists’ cause by helping to mobilize and incite thousands across the country to join the mob in Washington, D.C. on January 6 to intimidate and threaten Vice President Pence and Congress so they would not certify the election.”

Griffin had survived a recall attempt last year, with a recall petition falling 345 signatures short of the threshold needed to end up on a special election ballot., the Alamogordo Daily News reported at the time.