The trial against six men accused of conspiring with rancher Cliven Bundy to block federal agents from carrying out a court order to impound his cattle is underway in federal court in Las Vegas, and prosecutors on Tuesday played recorded phone conversations between a Bureau of Land Management agent and one of Bundy’s sons.
The call occurred roughly a month before the armed standoff in Bunkerville in April 2014. Here are some of the notable quotes from Ryan Bundy during his conversation with BLM Special Agent Michael Johnson:
- On a federal court order that authorized the BLM to seize cattle from a federal grazing allotment: “It should go before a state court.”
- On whether Bundy and his family would recognize the BLM’s authority to impound cattle: “You don’t have authority to recognize.”
- In response to the agent’s question about whether a conflict could be avoided: “There is one way. … You don’t come to gather our cattle.”
- On grazing issues: “We don’t claim ownership to land. We claim ownership to the grazing rights. … Those are our rights, and you are violating them.”
- On the impending impoundment operation: “You will not take one single cow that belongs to us”
- On how the Bundys would respond: “I will do whatever it takes, and I will have several hundred supporters with me to help.”
- On the BLM agent’s career: “You might want to get a new job … working for a foreign service, being out in the hills. I can see that being enjoyable but not honorable.”
- On municipal, state, and federal agencies: “They don’t have power. … They only have power that the people give to them.”
- On the cattle roundup: “You’re trying to harm us by stealing from us. … You’re trying to harm us by damaging our life and our liberty.”
- On public attention to the case: “The people of America, the people of the world are watching. … Why is the world interested in this subject of a couple little cows on the range in the Nevada desert? It’s not an issue between Cliven Bundy and a few cows and the BLM. It’s an issue of how … our rights and freedoms are going to be handled.”
Ryan Bundy, his father, and several other Bundys are scheduled to stand trial later this year. None of the six men currently being tried is a Nevada resident.