The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has ruled the Federal Bureau of Investigation must search for and produce records related to the agency’s impersonation of documentary filmmakers during investigations in response to a request from the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press for more information about the practice.
After learning the FBI impersonated a documentary film crew to investigate Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and his followers following a 2014 armed standoff between Bundy and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the Reporters Committee requested access to records related to this practice under the Freedom of Information Act. The FBI issued what’s known as a Glomar response, refusing to confirm or deny the existence of records responsive to the Reporters Committee’s request. The Reporters Committee challenged that response, arguing that it was improper, and the D.C. District Court agreed.
The Justice Department filed an appeal Wednesday of its devastating defeat against Cliven Bundy in the Nevada standoff, disputing the federal judge’s decision last year to throw out the case based on prosecutorial wrongdoing.
The 88-page motion, filed with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, challenged Chief U.S. District Court Judge Gloria Navarro’s blistering finding of “flagrant” misconduct, which prompted her to declare a mistrial in December 2017 and dismiss the charges a month later.
Federal prosecutors said Wednesday they plan to appeal their demoralizing defeat in the Nevada standoff trial, which saw a federal judge rebuke prosecutors for “flagrant misconduct” and dismiss all charges against rancher Cliven Bundy and two of his sons.
Elizabeth O. White, assistant U.S. attorney for Nevada, assured the court that the appeal would be filed by Feb. 6 after asking for a 14-day extension, saying the “review process is complete and the Solicitor General has authorized the government’s appeal.”
“Undersigned counsel further advises that the draft brief is nearly complete, editing of the completed portions has begun, and she has begun the laborious process of preparing the excerpts of record and updating the record citations in brief to the excerpts of record,” Ms. White said in the motion.
The Justice Department already had requested and received two extensions, but it was unclear until Wednesday whether prosecutors would go forward with the appeal.
Bundy attorney Larry Klayman condemned the decision to file the appeal, which would go before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. He accused the government of “circling the wagons” to protect prosecutors, including former Acting U.S. Attorney for Nevada Steven Myhre.
OJ Appellate Chief and Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth White revealed Francisco’s apparent indecision on Wednesday in a request to delay opening briefs in the case, which centers on a 2014 armed standoff between the Bundys and their supporters and the Bureau of Land Management.
“Despite the government’s diligent efforts, the Solicitor General’s review of the matter is not yet complete,” White wrote, pointing to the “massive” record in the case. “His Office, and the Solicitor General himself, are carefully reviewing the issues, the record, and the draft government brief.”
Three years before the impoundment of Cliven Bundy’s cattle turned into an armed confrontation between anti-government groups and federal agents, the FBI made an assessment that the Nevada rancher personally was unlikely to be violent in the event of conflict. The agency suggested a novel solution to Bundy’s 20 years of unpaid bills, one designed to put the dispute to rest: drop the fines he owed altogether.
The FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit, based in Quantico, Va., determined in 2011 that the rancher was unlikely to comply with federal court orders to move his 900 animals off federal land, where they had been illegally grazing, because “he only has enough land to handle less than 100 head of cattle.” Though the Bureau of Land Management was concerned that allowing Bundy to avoid paying federal grazing fees and fines could lead to violence, the FBI thought otherwise.
“BLM may wish to consider waiving the existing fines, as a gesture of willingness to participate in discussions geared toward negotiations,” the FBI wrote in the classified analysis, obtained by The Washington Post. The unit concluded that any alternatives the government could offer Bundy might reduce the rancher’s stress and “in turn, reduce the risk of a violent act.”
Editor Note: I was contacted by the Buzzfeed author of this article earlier this week. We chose not to respond. I chose this because I did not see the confusion between the definitions of refugees and illegal immigrants to be enough to personally be concerned about. I did, however, make a public comment after it was brought to my personal attention that Ammon Bundy was actively soliciting financial support for Refugee families from his supporters via an online Google document.
I am a devoted supporter and friend of the Bundy Families and the Patriot Political Prisoners that came to their call for help as well as their families. The leaders and many of the followers are now free and trying to get their lives and finances back to some kind of normal.
BURNS — Three-and-a-half hours after pardoned Oregon rancher Dwight Hammond Jr. arrived home, he gathered with his wife and sons around his dining room’s large circular table and got back to business.
They hooked him into a live feed of an auction in Nevada where Hammond Ranch Inc.’s 155 calves were on the block.
Hammond could have called in to participate in the annual sale but he held back, not wanting to jerk the reins from his daughter-in-law and others who have run the family’s cattle ranch while he and his son Steven served arson sentences in federal prison.
“We’ve had to trust them. No use to question their judgment now,” the 76-year-old said later, sitting in his living room, back in his trademark Wrangler jeans, brown cowboy boots and a blue button-down shirt that matched his eyes.
Ammon Bundy has called to the jurors of the Bunkerville Trial to view the hidden evidence in the case.
It has been well documented that the prosecution team, led by Steven Myhre, kept vital information from the jurors, as well as Judge Navarro.
Navarro, in December 2017, declared a mistrial in the case against Cliven Bundy, Ryan Bundy, Ammon Bundy and Ryan Payne. She specifically cited several instances of “Brady violations” from the prosecution, evidence that was not turned over to the defense which could have benefited their case.
An example of the hidden information is the knowledge of government snipers overlooking the Bundy house during the days and weeks leading up to the Bunkerville standoff in 2014.
Chris Kortlander, who last year made headlines by detailing the terrible human costs, including many suicides, resulting from the actions of aggressive and unaccountable Bureau of Land Management (BLM) agents, has written a book about his own harrowing experiences with the agency. Arrow to the Heart first recounts several controversial BLM debacles which occurred during the Obama years, including the Bundy Ranch and Gibson Guitar raids, and the deadly Utah sting, Operation Cerberus, which led to the suicide deaths of several men in the Four Corners region. Kortlander also takes readers back thirteen years, to the BLM raid of the Custer Battlefield Museum, which he founded, and the abuses and lies that nearly destroyed his life. But more than just an expose’ of historical federal abuses, Kortlander also explores the dark corners of corrupt Deep State machinations.
Today, Attorney Morgan Philpot, representing Jeanette Finicum, widow of Lavoy Finicum Shot and Killed at blind curve roadblock by Oregon State Police and FBI agents on January 26th, 2016, filed the attached Civil Demand for a Jury Trial in Oregon Federal District Court.
Lavoy was driving his truck with passengers Ryan Bundy, Shawna Cox, Victoria Sharp and Ryan Payne, to a meeting with Sherrif Glenn Palmer in John Day. The murder and arrests marked the beginning of the end to the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Harney County Oregon.
The lead prosecutor in the Nevada standoff case against Cliven Bundy, two of his sons and a fourth alleged ringleader told a jury in his opening statement last month that the case centered on the need to respect the rule of law.
Five weeks later, it was the prosecution team’s abuse of the rule of law that sunk the case, leading to a judge’s declaration Wednesday of a mistrial.
U.S. District Judge Gloria M. Navarro methodically listed the prosecution’s six separate violations of the Brady law, which requires turning over evidence potentially favorable to the defense. The judge further ruled that each violation was willful.
If ever there was a time when federal prosecutors needed to make sure they acted with complete integrity it was in the high-stakes Bundy case, legal observers say. The defendants already held a deep suspicion of the government and had successfully rallied followers to their cause.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions stepped into the Bundy prosecution after Wednesday’s mistrial, ordering a third-party examination of the case in light of the latest government snafu.
“The attorney general takes this issue very seriously and has personally directed that an expert in the [Justice Department’s] discovery obligations be deployed to examine the case and advise as to the next steps,” said Ian D. Prior, the department’s principal deputy director of public affairs, in a late Wednesday statement.
The decision to intervene came after Chief U.S. District Court Judge Gloria Navarro declared a mistrial over the government’s “willful failure to disclose information” to the defense, saying it would have been “impossible” for the four co-defendants to receive a fair trial.
Prosecutors shared it last week with defense lawyers for Bundy, his two sons and co-defendant Ryan Payne as they were in the midst of their conspiracy trial, but it’s not part of the public court record.
The memo prompted Cliven Bundy’s lawyer to file a motion early Monday to dismiss the case, already in disarray over concerns raised previously about the government’s failure to promptly share evidence with the defense.
The judge sent the jury home for more than a week as she tries to sort out the claims and prosecutors scramble to save their case.
The memo comes from Larry Wooten, who had been the lead case agent and investigator for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management after the tense confrontation outside the patriarch’s ranch near Bunkerville. Wooten also testified before a federal grand jury that returned indictments against the Bundys. He said he was removed from the investigation last February after he complained to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Nevada.
Last week, Cliven Bundy’s lawyer, Bret Whipple, said his client turned down U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro’s conditions of release because he believed he was innocent and would not accept restrictions on his freedom. He also said Cliven Bundy did not want others jailed in connection with the standoff.
Now that two more of his sons who were charged in the Bunkerville case have been let out of jail, and none of the standoff defendants awaiting trial remains behind bars, Whipple plans to discuss with his client the possibility of being with family for the holidays.
“I’m going to encourage him to allow me to help him,” Whipple said. “But at the end of the day, Cliven is a very principled man, and he follows his own principles, and I respect that.”
LAS VEGAS (AP) — A federal judge offered to release a rancher and states’ rights figure from custody during his trial on charges involving an armed standoff that stopped a government cattle roundup three years ago in Nevada.
But Cliven Bundy refused to leave jail while others are still behind bars awaiting trial in the case.
Bundy, 71, didn’t state his reason in court Wednesday. But his wife, Carol Bundy, noted in a courthouse hallway that two other sons, Mel and David Bundy, are approaching two years in federal detention.
Ammon Bundy, on trial with his rancher father Cliven Bundy, was released from jail Thursday morning.
A crowd of about 50 supporters and family members, including Ammon Bundy’s wife and six children, cheered and hugged him as he walked out of the Lloyd George U.S. Courthouse in downtown Las Vegas.
His brother, Ryan, another defendant facing a jury on charges connected with the 2014 armed standoff in Bunkerville, was among those in the crowd. The two hugged briefly before Ammon Bundy spoke with reporters.
“Freedom is important,” he said, wearing a blue-and-white plaid shirt, bluejeans and orange sandals. “It’s important because of our families. It’s important because of the great things we enjoy every day as Americans. America has always been an example of freedom, an example of family, an example of what’s good in this world. And really all my family has ever tried to do is just promote that.”
The Bundy trial continues into its next phase in Las Vegas, Nevada. Cliven Bundy, with sons Ryan and Ammon, and their co-defendant Ryan Payne, face felony charges that could result in over 100 years in prison for each.
Directly after opening statements, the prosecution “opened” its case against the Bundy’s and Payne. The prosecution will be in charge of much of the narrative in the next month or two until they “rest” their case. They will be calling the witnesses who are most favorable to the governments theory; usually government employees of the BLM, FBI and other law enforcement agencies. The defendants will be allowed to cross-examine the governments witnesses. The Bundy’s and Payne will have their turn to “open” their case after the government has “rested” theirs.
Several defense attorneys from the first Oregon refuge occupation trial have written memos supporting Ammon Bundy’s lawyer in his fight with the federal court over his behavior during and at the end of the trial when he was tackled by federal marshals and stunned with a Taser.
The attorneys praised Marcus Mumford for his demeanor, said he didn’t have enough time to prepare for the trial but was a zealous advocate for his client. Some wrote that U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown was especially tough on Mumford, and there was longstanding animosity between Mumford and the marshals before the physical confrontation.
Mumford faced criminal charges after deputy marshals tackled him in the courtroom and took him into custody following the announcement of not guilty verdicts on Oct. 27, 2016, but prosecutors later dropped them. Mumford had shouted at the judge, argued for Ammon Bundy’s release and demanded to see a detention order from Nevada.
Complaint Meant to Force AG Sessions To Review and Dismiss Charges
(Washington, D.C., November 10, 2017). Today, Larry Klayman, the founder of both Judicial Watch and now Freedom Watch, announced a lawsuit filed in his private capacity on behalf of Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher who stood up to government tyranny under the Obama administration. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (Case No. 1:17-cv-02429) against Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director Christopher Wray in their official capacities, the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) and the Inspector General (IG) over their failure to conduct an investigation into the bad faith and gross prosecutorial abuse by federal prosecutors and the destruction and hiding of material exculpatory evidence by the DOJ, FBI and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in the ongoing criminal prosecution.
The third Bunkerville Standoff Trail in Las Vegas has been delayed for several motions to be resolved before opening arguments.
Thursday saw a pre-trial detention release hearing for the four defendants, Cliven Bundy, his two sons Ryan and Ammon, as well as defendant Ryan Payne.
Bret Whipple, attorney for Cliven Bundy, argued for release of his client citing his age and failing health. The elder Bundy has noticeably weakened since his incarceration nearly two years ago.
Whipple told the court of Bundy’s dental problems, noting that the 71-year-old has had to pull several of his own teeth in his attempts to stop infections. Dental care is minimal in the CCA detention center.
Cliven Bundy, sons Ammon Bundy, and Ryan Bundy, and co-defendant Ryan Payne are accused of conspiring to block federal agents from enforcing court orders when the BLM tried to confiscate Cliven Bundy’s cattle. The cattle were on public land where the ranch had grazing and water rights since the late 1800’s. The government’s actions resulted in the deaths of approximately 100 head of cattle and the destruction of the Bundy’s livestock watering system built throughout the last century.
The four defendants have been incarcerated since January of 2016. They were each charged with 10 felonies. Each man could be sentenced to more than a hundred years in prison for their involvement while resisting the confiscation. The men are brought to court in shackles and each man has had a significant weight loss since their incarceration. All their motions for pretrial releases have been denied.
LAS VEGAS — A judge declined Thursday to release Nevada cattleman Cliven Bundy days before trial, concerned he still doesn’t recognize federal authority and has a large incentive to flee with at least 80 years in prison hanging over his head if convicted of four of his 16 charges.
U.S. District Judge Gloria M. Navarro also rejected release requests by Ryan Bundy and Ryan Payne and said she would make a decision later on Ammon Bundy.
Bret O. Whipple, the attorney representing the elder Bundy on charges in the 2014 standoff near Bunkerville, urged consideration for the patriarch’s age, his failing health and the reduced weight of evidence against him after unsuccessful conspiracy prosecutions against others in the case.
“He refers to himself as an old cow,” Whipple said, noting that the 71-year-old Bundy arrived in custody with 20 teeth and now has 10 to 15 teeth left because infections are treated by pulling teeth in jail and not with dental care.
“It’s been hard on him and his health has really deteriorated,” Whipple said.
LAS VEGAS — Prosecutors in the Bundy trial must provide information by noon Saturday on all armed federal officers who did surveillance outside the Bundy ranch and any cameras capturing images of the Bundy home between March 1 and April 12, 2014, a judge ordered Wednesday.
The information must be turned over to the defense.
It could help Cliven Bundy, sons Ammon Bundy and Ryan Bundy and co-defendant Ryan Payne challenge the allegation that they used “deceit and deception” to encourage supporters to come to the ranch by saying the house was surrounded, federal snipers were outside the home and the family felt isolated.
Defense lawyers said they learned for the first time on Tuesday of two federal officers dressed in camouflage and armed with AR-15 rifles posted outside the Bundy residence at night.
That information was contained in a written report that they received from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in preparation for Wednesday’s hearing on disputed discovery evidence.
“Wouldn’t it be important for the defense to know FBI agents are overlooking the Bundy residence with an AR-15?” asked Brenda Weksler, one of Payne’s defense lawyers. “How do we not have this until yesterday?”
Caution: Following the Bunkerville standoff trial proceedings can cause whiplash.
Today the federal judge again delayed the start of the trial for Cliven Bundy, his sons Ammon and Ryan, and self-styled militia member Ryan Payne. This time for a week. She agreed to hold hearings after Cliven Bundy’s attorney asked the charges be dropped because the prosecution had failed to reveal any recordings or notes taken off live surveillance video of the Bundy ranch during the April 2014 standoff. Ryan Bundy raised the question as to whether there was surveillance video several weeks ago.
“If it has potentially useful information, then the defense is entitled to it,” the judge is quoted by Reuters as saying. “I‘m not convinced that it doesn’t exist.”
The federal agents reportedly shredded documents after the standoff ended.