Griffin, representing himself, stood against a battery of lawyers, experts and witnesses. While the plaintiffs presented documentary evidence from the video footage of his participation in the Jan. 6 insurrection mob, his candid video from his preceding bus tour and Griffin’s own social media posts, Griffin presented no evidence and no witnesses.
“Witnesses?” he scoffed. “I don’t even have a lawyer.”
Instead of a real defense, Griffin portrayed himself as a peaceful protester who “just misunderstood” the system and, yes, admittedly said things that he likely shouldn’t have.
Things like … “blood will run from the Capitol” and “if we don’t win it at the ballot box, we’ll win it in the streets.”
“We need men in the heat of battle standing shoulder to shoulder for the fight,” he said on the way to D.C. as he rallied others to attend. “Every card is on the table. Losing is not an option.”
Griffin couldn’t remember telling people they should “rise up,” but then again, he may have, he admitted. He wanted the court to believe he didn’t mean it, though; only he was simply in an emotionally driven state.
Faced with clear evidence that he rallied the mob while it broke Capitol windows and became increasingly violent, he said this was not actually a “mob” but was simply “just a crowd,” like at a sporting event that just got out of hand. And when a D.C. police officer who was there trying to control the “crowd” told the court another story, Griffin continually resisted.
He reverted to a claim that antifa, shorthand for left-wing anti-facists, was to blame and said the police officer who died the day after the riot died of natural causes and not from injuries suffered while being attacked with a fire extinguisher.
He didn’t mean to trespass or enter a prohibited area, even though he had to surmount several barriers to get there. He thought the barriers were just like those little ropes meant to keep people off the grass.
And he didn’t really mean to threaten Vice President Mike Pence when he said, “If he doesn’t do it [decertify the election] he’s going to have to find a real dark hole to climb into.”
Griffin’s main defense was he was a well-meaning, peaceful man with “heart,” a phrase that he repeated over and over.
He might as well have said, “Aw shucks, just believe me and not the facts. I’m the victim here — not those who were hurt, intimidated or threatened with death.” The other side is trying to destroy him with slander and an unfair suit, he said.
It’s a familiar refrain heard in courtrooms and kitchens throughout the land from those who do not accept responsibility for their own actions and words. In this case, it’s particularly dangerous because Jan. 6 was not a sporting event, but a violent action to prevent the peaceful transfer of power and subvert our democratic process. And we escaped by the skin of our teeth.
If county commissioners and other elected officials, who should be held to a higher standard when it comes to obeying laws and honoring their oaths, can escape responsibility and minimize dangerous conduct in the name of simple exaggeration, carelessness or ignorance — this process will have no end.
“In spite of all the charges,” Griffin said in closing, “I’m still standing” — foolish and blunt as he admits himself to be.
But if Judge Francis Mathew finds his actions encouraged insurrection, Griffin will have violated Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution and he will be barred from holding office and seeking it in the future. I hope that happens.