Pete Santilli, the conservative Internet talk show host who pleaded guilty to conspiracy stemming from the 2014 Bunkerville standoff in Nevada after charges were dismissed against him in the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, is in a legal battle with conservative lawyer Larry Klayman, who now represents Cliven Bundy.
In January, Santilli filed a bar complaint against Klayman, claiming Klayman collected donations for more than a year while Santilli and co-defendants were in custody in Nevada, promising to challenge their detention but never did.
This month, Klayman filed a $15 million defamation lawsuit in the Superior Court in the District of Columbia against Santilli, alleging in part that Santilli is violating the terms of his federal supervised release through his communications with now-indicted Roger Stone, a longtime advisor to President Trump.
Klayman’s suit followed several emails Klayman sent Santilli promising to sue him if he didn’t withdraw his bar complaint.
Klayman, according to Santilli, had promised him and his co-defendants in Nevada that he’d file a civil lawsuit against U.S. District Judge Gloria M. Navarro, who was the trial judge in the Bunkerville prosecution, as well as former Nevada U.S. Sen. Harry Reid and President Barack Obama, in an attempt to get relief for their detention, claiming they were held without due process as “political prisoners.’’
“Mr. Klayman kept promising he would be having an appointment with the Attorney General & also continued to collect donations from our supporters for ‘legal fees,’’’ Santilli’s complaint says. “ After months of failing to follow through with the work he promised, as well as securing an appointment with AG Sessions. We were finally informed that our entire legal package was forwarded without our permission to AG Sessions, who then turned over our priveleged (sic) materials to the prosecution team.’’
Santilli partly blamed Klayman for his decision to plead guilty to the conspiracy charge in the Nevada case, although Santilli had his own court-appointed lawyer. While Klayman promised to help the defense team’s review of discovery and exhibits prior to the Bundy trial, Klayman was “incompetent in the use of computers,’’ and hadn’t done the preparation, Santilli wrote.
“Due to his extreme lack of preparation for trial within one month prior to trial, Mr. Klayman is partly to blame for me being forced to plead out on a felony,’’ Santilli wrote in his bar complaint.
Santilli wrote that he was concerned he was at risk of “being collateral damage’’ and might be found “guilty by association’’ due to what he saw as a lack of preparation by other attorneys involved in the case.
In the end, Navarro dismissed all charges against Santilli’s co-defendants, citing government misconduct in prosecutors’ failure to share evidence with the defense as required by law.
Santilli pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy to impede or injure a federal officer before trial and was sentenced in September to time served and placed on two years of federal supervision. He’s returned to his Internet radio show.
Klayman argues that he never entered any agreement to represent Santilli, who he described as lacking the “courage’’ to stand trial. Instead, Klayman insisted in his suit that he’s “worked tirelessly’’ to gain justice for Cliven Bundy, and only material from the public record was shared with Sessions’ office.
In Klayman’s suit filed in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia, Klayman also argued that Santilli sold out his co-defendants in the Bunkerville case through his plea deal and is “in bed with’’ Stone, now indicted stemming from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Klayman contends Santilli is doing the “bidding’’ of Stone, in an attempt to discredit both Klayman and Klayman’s client, Jerome Corsi, another political gadfly, who is a witness in the case against Stone. Corsi is alleged in an indictment to have been one of two intermediaries between Stone and WikiLeaks in 2016 before the online site published stolen emails damaging to Hillary Clinton.
Last week, a federal judge in Nevada denied Santilli’s request to his probation officer to interview Stone while Stone faces indictment.
“The probation office concludes that the potential professional or financial value [Defendant] has assigned to an interview with Stone does not outweigh our unique responsibility of placing him (Santilli) in the best position to succeed during the term of supervision,” the U.S. Probation Office wrote to U.S. District Judge Gloria M. Navarro, who denied Santilli’s request.