WASHINGTON — In the weeks leading up to Capitol rioter Jack Griffith’s guilty plea on Thursday, he repeatedly posted on Facebook promoting a video game he says he's building where an animated Donald Trump shoots and threatens monsters, members of “antifa,” “Dem zombies,” and other assorted enemies.
Griffith prefaced video clips from the game, which feature a gun-toting Trump running around and shooting other characters, with a message that it is “not meant to incite violence in any way.” The video game is rife with right-wing and antisemitic conspiracy theories; on a crowdfunding page, Griffith writes that part of his goal in creating the game is “bringing awareness.”
The video clips, along with Griffith’s other Facebook posts, underscore that the criminal prosecutions haven’t deterred many of the conspiracy theories and pro-Trump fervor that motivated hundreds of people to descend upon the Capitol on Jan. 6. Prosecutors have stayed away from focusing on the political beliefs or comments made by the people who were at the Capitol that day as grounds for their arrest, but they have stressed what actions individuals took that day — for instance, whether they illegally entered the Capitol, assaulted police, or destroyed property.
Griffith pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol building, which carries a maximum sentence of six months in jail. During the hearing, US District Chief Judge Beryl Howell questioned whether defendants such as Griffith were receiving plea deals that were too lenient given their participation in the mob that was involved in “stopping a constitutionally mandated duty of the Congress and terrorizing members of Congress.”
In response to questions from BuzzFeed News about Griffith’s Facebook posts, his lawyer, H. Heather Shaner, described them as “political irony” and said that no video game had been completed. After BuzzFeed News contacted Shaner, a July 18 Facebook post promoting the game no longer appeared on the page, although other clips were still up.
On July 9, Griffith also posted a music video on YouTube in which he sings about trying to get rich and having a semiautomatic weapon, adding, “but I hope to god I don’t have to use that.” His pretrial release conditions state that he’s not allowed to possess any illegal firearms; Shaner wrote in an email that it was a “stupid song” and that he had no guns.
“[N]o weapons in his future or his present,” she wrote.
The July 18 video featuring clips from the game starts with a message on the screen that states, “So I’ve been working on a Donald Trump video game…” At the bottom, a parenthetical note adds, “This is not meant to inspire violence in any way. It is merely a game. Violence is never the answer. Thanks ❤️.” Griffith posted a similar version of the video on July 16 with the anti-violence disclaimer in the caption.
The video shows clips of an animated Trump character shooting at monsters and black-clad figures. There are frequent allusions to right-wing conspiracy theories.
“I think you’re the one who should prepare to die, you globalist scum,” the Trump character says to a monster in one scene. A message appears at the bottom: “We are going to save our kids, and stop the NWO!”
The line is one of several references to fighting child sexual abuse, which has been a theme at the heart of the QAnon mass delusion that believes satanic Democrats are running a vast child trafficking network. Griffith also repeatedly refers to the “NWO,” which stands for “new world order,” another right-wing conspiracy theory about a socialist plot to take over the world, confiscate all guns, and put “dissenters” in concentration camps, according to the Anti-Defamation League. The conspiracy theory is sometimes associated with antisemitism. Griffith, who refers to himself as “Juan Bibiano” and “Liberty Dragon” online, begins many of his videos by saying he is “breathing fire to the new world order.”
In a Facebook post from July 16, Griffith shared a different clip from the game that appears to show the Trump character pointing a gun at a black-clad figure (identified as being “antifa”) against the backdrop of burning buildings. Griffith describes the scene as “Trump interrogating a professional agitator in Portland, Oregon. The heart of the Antifa scourge!” The “antifa” character talks about being hired by George Soros — a billionaire investor, philanthropist, and Democratic donor who is frequently invoked in right-wing, antisemitic conspiracies. Trump kicks the character before they admit that “Biden’s on his way to Beijing right now to plan out the submission of our sovereignty to Soros and China, at the same time.”
On a crowdfunding website linked on the Facebook page, Griffith asks for money to help him finish the game and specifies that the goal is to promote these conspiracy theories. “Not only is it a badass experience from start to finish," he writes, "it is also bringing awareness to the globalist pedophile ring and New World Order plot behind the scenes.” He also writes that he needs financial support “because [he] lost everything after [he] entered the Capitol on Jan. 6th.”
Griffith’s other Facebook posts since his arrest on Jan. 16 include several videos where he wears a jacket painted with “TRUMP WON” on one side and “MAGA” on the other. One of his videos includes a reference to a TikTok account, where he posted a video on July 11 that alluded to the lie that the presidential election was stolen and approvingly noted that a crowd had cheered for Trump at a UFC match.
"The people's president," Griffith says, smiling. "I think we all know who won, OK? Just saying."
In one TikTok from July 13 about his video game, one commenter asked Griffith to include “all the fake news people & politicians that we want to hunt down also.” Griffith responded that he “can’t really do that,” saying he doesn’t want “anyone to be hunted down.” He added that Soros and the Podestas "are in the game."
In the months between his arrest and Thursday's plea hearing, he wrote posts claiming Google “has become a globalist censorship tool,” denounced “brainwashed liberals,” and spoke approvingly of the Republican-led “audit” of election results in Arizona. In another reference to Soros, Griffith posted a 58-second clip of a song he apparently wrote, which included this line: “They been trying to change the way you would say words / And I’m going to fight for it till the last day on Earth / I’m saying 'fuck George Soros' and I’m flippin’ birds.”
He also posted an interview he did in late January talking about his experience going into the Capitol; he condemned the violence against police on Jan. 6 and claimed officers had opened doors for rioters to go into the building. He said he did the interview, 10 days after his arrest, “against all advice from any legal scholars” to clear his name.
“I walked through an open door. I walked through an open door. And, you know, some people would be like, 'that’s irresponsible, that’s immature.' You know, OK, maybe I could see that — but for the people calling me a terrorist, no, absolutely not. I could be nothing further from a terrorist,” Griffith said.
His charging papers included screenshots from Facebook posts he put up shortly after Jan. 6 that included a photo of himself inside the Capitol raising his fist. His Facebook page, which is publicly accessible, starts with posts from February. In a May 13 post, he writes that he was “turning all [his] posts to public from now on.”
Sarah Mimms contributed reporting to this story.