New York GOP district leader Philip Grillo, self-proclaimed 'Republican Messiah,' arrested in Capitol riot case

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Rioters clash with police trying to enter Capitol building through the front doors, January 6, 2021.
Lev Radin | Pacific Press | LightRocket | Getty Images

A New York City man who has a leadership role in the Queens County Republican Party was arrested Tuesday and charged with participation in the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

Philip Grillo, 46, was identified by two tipsters as one of the members of the mob that invaded the Capitol that day by a Knights of Columbus jacket he was wearing, among other things, according to a statement of facts signed by an FBI agent.

“I saw him twice in CNN in two separate incidents,” one witness told the FBI, noting that they knew Grillo from growing up with him in the Glen Oaks section of Queens

Grillo, whom the FBI confirmed was a member of a Queens Knights of Columbus council, is listed as being the GOP leader of the 24th Assembly District in Queens by that county’s Republican Party group.

In late 2020, he was blocked from being confirmed as a place-holder candidate in a special Feb. 2 election for a seat on the New York City Council.

Grillo’s effort to get on the ballot and swap in another man as the actual candidate in the races — a tactic that is legal — failed after a Democratic former council member who sought that seat challenged the petition signatures he submitted.

His Facebook page refers to himself as “The Republican Messiah,” a state GOP committeeman in “President Trumps Hometown District.”

“I’m truly upset,” Grillo’s mother told CNBC when asked for comment on his arrest.

The FBI said in the statement of facts that a cell phone number registered to the name of Grillo’s mother, who is in her early 70s, was used in and around the Capitol building on the day of the riot. She has not been charged in the case.

Grillo, who is one of scores of people who have been arrested in connection with the riot, is expected to appear in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn later Tuesday.

The statement of facts says he was among thousands of rioters who swarmed in and around the Capitol on Jan. 6 after a rally by then-President Donald Trump, who asked his supporters to help him fight against the confirmation of Joe Biden as the winner of the presidential election. A joint session of Congress was meeting that day to certify Biden’s victory.

The statement of facts says that video footage from inside the Capitol shows Grillo climbing through a broken window at about 2:30 p.m that day, and then is seen holding a megaphone.

Other surveillance video shows Grillo in the Rotunda, and among rioters trying to enter a room that contained doors leading outside, “where more protestors were gathered.”

Those doors were ultimately opened by other members of the crowds, who pushed against Capitol Police officers who tried to keep the doors closed, the document says.

In YouTube footage taken just outside the Capitol, Grillo was seen among a crowd that was shouting “Fight for Trump”

“This crowd was engaged in a physical confrontation with uniformed officers at the entryway,” the document said. “Grillo was near the front of the crowd. The crowd, including Grillo, was eventually driven back from the door when officers employed a chemical irritant.”

The document notes that on Nov. 11, Grillo posted a brief video from the Facebook page of “Donald J. Trump” on his own page.

“Trump’s post was captioned with “WE WILL WIN!” and a brief video saying to believe in the impossible,” the document says.

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