DILLON — Couy Griffin mined his preaching background Friday night when he proclaimed to the pro-Trump crowd that he believes the former president is anointed by God.
Griffin founded Cowboys for Trump and faces misdemeanor charges for his alleged presence in a restricted area of the U.S. Capitol building during the riot of Jan. 6 in Washington D.C.
A former pastor, Griffin acknowledged that Trump is a flawed man. But he reminded the crowd that King David of the Old Testament was a sinner. Those sins included adultery and soliciting murder, according to the Bible.
About 90 people in the Frontier Event Center heard the onetime preacher emphasize that God is sovereign.
“If God wanted Donald J. Trump to be in that office right now you can bet your boots he would be,” he said. “I believe with all my heart that the election was stolen.”
Griffin, a county commissioner in Otero County, New Mexico, said he still doesn’t believe Joe Biden is president. He said evidence of election fraud is clear.
“[Trump] was fighting the good fight for those of us who have been left behind by the government,” Griffin said, noting that he has met Trump and had conversations with him. “I know his heart. His heart is for the people.”
Griffin and Dillon businessman Henry “Hank” Muntzer clearly enjoyed a measure of celebrity with the crowd Friday because each faces charges tied to the Jan. 6 riot in Washington D.C.
Muntzer wore a T-shirt Friday imprinted with the mug shot from his arrest on insurrection-related charges. He runs Dillon Appliance on South Atlantic Street. The building’s exterior features a host of political murals and slogans, including some associated with QAnon conspiracies. One reads “Deep State Cabal” and another suggests the assassination of John F. Kennedy marked the beginning of the cabal’s malevolent dominance in American politics.
On Friday evenings, a number of pro-Trump residents of the region gather at Muntzer’s store and line up for a parade through town. They call it the “Trump Train.”
One man who asked not to be named said that although he did not like Trump as a person he liked what he accomplished for the country.
Friday’s parade included about 11 vehicles outfitted with Trump flags, American flags or other banners sometimes associated with conservative causes.
During an interview before the parade, Muntzer said he anticipates beating the charges against him from Jan. 6 and then successfully filing a civil lawsuit.
“Not only will I be cleared, they are going to pay me a huge premium for this,” he said.
As the vehicles lined up for the procession through town, a lone opponent stood across the street from Dillon Appliance. Mike Mosolf, a veteran of the U.S. Army, displayed an anti-Trump sign. One vehicle drove past him and a man yelled, “Bullshit!” Another vehicle, a large and shiny black SUV, pulled alongside. A man in the passenger seat said, “I’ll stick with Trump.”
Mosolf shrugged. He said he sometimes gets a thumbs-up from passersby and sometimes a middle finger.
Later, he showed up for Griffin’s speech and sat at a table with a group of Trump supporters. Everybody seemed cordial.
Mosolf’s wife, Diane, said in an email before the event Friday that she believes many people in Dillon think of Muntzer’s slogan-bearing appliance store as an embarrassment.
“The Trump Train, as it’s called, is a joke,” she said. “Most people have gone on with their lives and accepted the election. We are almost a year into Biden’s election now. The drivers of the Trump Train live in their own world.”
Friday’s procession began around 6:15 p.m. and its route wound through Dillon, traveling streets in both commercial and residential neighborhoods. Some pedestrians responded with waves and smiles. Others were less supportive. Two young women offered vigorous “thumbs down.”
The train ended at the Frontier Event Center on East Helena. Slated to begin at 7 p.m., the speeches started late because Muntzer was in the parking lot being interviewed by two young journalists from Germany.
Earlier, Griffin said he believes the federal government has been reluctant to move forward with trials of defendants charged with alleged crimes tied to the Jan. 6 riot. He said authorities are pushing instead for guilty pleas or plea bargains.
Griffin said he believes trials would compel the government to disclose to defense lawyers video evidence that would be both exculpatory and revelatory.
Another Dillon resident, Isaac Steve Sturgeon, also faces charges for participating in the events of Jan. 6 at the U.S. Capitol.
Muntzer said the Trump Train will continue on Friday evenings until Trump returns to office. He is confident that will happen.
“Trump will be back before the end of the year after the fraud is exposed,” Muntzer said.
Griffin described a different sort of exposure. He said when Americans view all the evidence from Jan. 6 they will discover the truth.
“Evidence will show not a violent insurrection but the biggest political setup of all time,” he said.