The public wondered, after supposed comedienne Kathy Griffin released a photo online of her holding the bloodied, decapitated head of President Trump, if the U.S. Secret Service would interview Griffin as part of their investigation, as they did in 2012, when Ted Nugent had to meet with the Secret Service after blustering at a meeting of the National Rifle Association, “We need to ride into that battlefield and chop their heads off in November,” referring to the Obama administration.
Now we have the answer: on Tuesday it was revealed that the Secret Service did indeed interview Griffin for an hour and it ain’t over yet.
At the beginning of June, Dmitry Gorin, a criminal defense attorney representing Griffin, protested at a news conference with Griffin, “She basically exercised her First Amendment rights to tell a joke. When you look at everything in the media, all the times entertainers make videos or express themselves in other ways, you’ve never seen an entertainer, let alone a comedian, be subject to a criminal investigation.” He confirmed an investigation had been commenced.
LwNewz, a litigation based website, said according to previous precedence, it’s unlikely Griffin will be prosecuted.
In Bradenburg v. Ohio, the Court ruled for a Klan member who supported “revengeance” against the U.S. government. They held that speech is unprotected if it is both “directed at inciting or producing imminent lawless action,” and likely to succeed. It is highly likely that a judge would consider Griffin’s photo “crude political hyperbole.” Also, note that the term “imminent lawless action” is interpreted quite narrowly. The action really has to be imminent and not merely hypothetical. While clearly provocative in tone, this image falls short of that standard.