White House hits back at Oregon’s senators over appeals court nomination

In the ongoing dispute between the state’s two U.S. senators and the Trump administration, the White House counsel accuses the lawmakers of failing to consider the administration’s pick for a judicial vacancy on a federal appellate court.

The White House last week nominated Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan Bounds, a young, politically conservative federal prosecutor, for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, both Democrats, want U.S. District Judge Marco A. Hernandez, a Republican, for the vacancy.

Wyden and Merkley have vowed to block Bounds’ nomination, saying that he wasn’t vetted through their bipartisan judicial selection committee.

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Other FBI agents at scene of LaVoy Finicum shooting testified before grand jury

Other members of the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team involved in the stop of refuge occupation spokesman Robert “LaVoy” Finicum testified before a federal grand jury that returned an indictment against their colleague, Agent W. Joseph Astarita. 

Prosecutors have asked the court for permission to share transcripts of the agents’ testimony with a nationally recognized ballistics and trajectory expert who they may call as a witness at trial.

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California man who outed FBI informants in refuge takeover case found in civil contempt of court

A federal judge has found California resident Gary Hunt, who published the names of confidential informants who helped the FBI during the armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, in contempt of a court’s protective order.

U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown has given Hunt until noon on Wednesday to remove the articles on his blog that reference the informants and destroy all government documents he received on the informants.

If he doesn’t, he’ll face more “coercive sanctions,” the judge wrote in her 23-page ruling.

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Oregon’s U.S. senators urge Trump to keep U.S. Attorney Billy Williams

Oregon’s U.S. senators have urged President Trump to retain Billy J. Williams as the state’s top federal prosecutor.

Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden say Williams is a prosecutor with integrity who enjoys bipartisan support and should remain Oregon’s U.S. attorney.

The two signed an Aug. 16 letter to White House counsel Donald F. MGahn II  and included a letter of support from the Oregon State Sheriff’s Association.

So far, no word has come from the Trump administration regarding the post.

Williams was named acting U.S. attorney in April 2015 after Amanda Marshall resigned amid a sexual harassment investigation. Early last year, he was appointed to the post by Chief U.S. District Judge Michael W. Mosman.

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Portland sex attack suspect’s 12 deportations inflame immigration debate

Sergio Martinez returned to Portland after nearly a decade’s absence. But he’d been busy in the meantime: Deported 12 times. Convicted three times for illegal re-entry. A rap sheet of crimes from burglary to theft in three states.

Immigration agents noticed his name on a Multnomah County list of jail inmates last December. They asked the Sheriff’s Office to alert them before releasing Martinez so they could send him back to Mexico one more time.

But they never heard a word. Martinez spent a night in the downtown jail, then was out.

Police in Portland arrested Martinez five more times over the next six months. Each time, he was booked into jail. Each time, immigration agents had no idea that he’d been arrested, booked and released.

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Oregon refuge occupier Darryl Thorn taken into custody amid concerns over suicidal threats

A judge Wednesday revoked Oregon refuge occupier Darryl Thorn’s release and sent him to jail immediately to undergo a mental health evaluation, concerned about repeated threats he made to his girlfriend that he was going to hang himself or commit “suicide by cop.”

Thorn, who was convicted of federal conspiracy, possession of a firearm in a federal facility, trespass and other charges at a trial this year, suffered an “emotional crisis” after moving to the small eastern Oregon town of Monument, his defense lawyer said.

Thorn, 32, moved there from Spokane in late June on the promise of a job and a residence, only to have both fall through, said Jay Nelson, Thorn’s third defense lawyer in the case. He ended up living in an RV park and searching for odd jobs while his girlfriend often was away traveling for her job in road construction.

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Travis Cox called his refuge occupation ‘hasty decision by an arrogant and ignorant young man’

The youngest Oregon refuge occupier to face indictment acknowledged Monday that he was an “arrogant, ignorant young man” who made an impulsive mistake in going to the bird sanctuary last year and doing guard duty during the armed takeover.

“If I could go back, I wouldn’t do it again,” Travis Cox said, standing beside his lawyer during his sentencing hearing.

He was ordered to serve two years of probation, including two months on home detention, for conspiring to impede federal workers through intimidation, threat or force during the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

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Antifa, Patriot movement protesters return to Portland waterfront with new tactics

Joey Gibson said at the beginning of the summer protest season that he had turned over a new leaf. The alt-right leader known for bombastic Facebook posts and pugilistic pronouncements advocated a new tactic. He doesn’t want to pick physical fights. He wants conversation.

Gibson used to hurl his conservative message mixed with insults at people on the streets of Portland, but now he hopes to convert the city’s overwhelmingly liberal residents to his Patriot Prayer movement with peace and inclusion. At the same time, he has hosted controversial white supremacist speakers and drawn loud counter-protests.

Gibson, a self-employed Vancouver, Washington, activist, will be back again Sunday on the Portland waterfront with plans to march.

And so will the anti-fascist activists known as antifa who wear black and mask their faces.

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LaVoy Finicum shooting: Prosecutors seeking missing shell casings, metal fragment from Ryan Bundy’s shoulder

The case against an FBI agent charged with lying about firing two shots at Oregon standoff spokesman Robert “LaVoy” Finicum most likely will turn on expert testimony about the validity of the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office investigation, a defense lawyer said Thursday.

No one reported that they saw or heard agent W. Joseph Astarita fire and no direct evidence exists linking any bullet or shell casing to Astarita’s rifle, one of his lawyers said.

Prosecutors countered that the investigation continues and revealed for the first time that not only are shell casings from Astarita’s alleged shots missing, but so are shell casings from some of the Oregon State Police shots fired at the Jan. 26, 2016, roadblock.

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Refuge occupier Eric Lee Flores sentenced to 2 years’ probation, 5 months’ home detention

A federal judge on Thursday sentenced Eric Lee Flores to two years of probation, including five months of home detention, for his role in the January 2016 occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

Flores, 23, was the second defendant to plead guilty on June 9, 2016, admitting he conspired to impede federal employees from carrying out their work at the federal wildlife sanctuary in Harney County through intimidation, threat or force.

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LaVoy Finicum shooting: Indictment of agent ‘devastating’ for FBI

An indictment accusing an FBI agent of lying to hide that he fired two shots at Robert “LaVoy” Finicum and missed caps an 18-month investigation that began with Oregon sheriff’s detectives who followed “where the evidence led,” their commander said Wednesday.

Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson credited his investigators for their tenaciousness and said he was “disappointed and angry” that the FBI agent’s alleged deceit and actions “damage the integrity of the entire law enforcement profession.”

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Prosecution of FBI agents is rare

The pursuit of criminal charges against an FBI agent for allegedly lying about firing his gun at Robert “LaVoy” Finicum in January 2016 is a rare occurrence.

Only a fraction of the FBI’s agents have ever faced prosecution for alleged malfeasance on the job. Currently, the FBI employs about 13,000 agents.

Among those convicted in the past few years are a Los Angeles-area agent who stole drug money to pay for cars and plastic surgery; an agent who fed his drug addiction by stealing heroin seized as evidence; and a high-ranking agent who perjured himself about his dealings with a Boston gangster.

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FBI agent indicted for alleged false statements in LaVoy Finicum shooting

An FBI agent has been indicted on federal accusations that he lied about firing at Robert “LaVoy” Finicum last year as police arrested the leaders of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation.

The agent will face allegations of making a false statement with intent to obstruct justice, according to sources familiar with the case.

The indictment stems from a more than year-long investigation by the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Justice. The agent will be identified when he’s summoned to appear in U.S. District Court in Portland at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.

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Judge places Oregon refuge occupier Geoffrey Stanek on home detention, 2 years probation

“You’re free to think what you choose, but your conduct crossed the line,” the judge said. “I need to be sure you won’t take it upon yourself to answer that type of call again. … You need to put this chapter behind you. You need to respect the law, whether you agree with it or not.”The judge said she considered that Stanek entered a guilty plea early to a federal conspiracy charge last year and that he didn’t withdraw his plea after occupation leaders who went to trial were acquitted last fall. The fact that he heeded the FBI’s request that he and others leave the refuge the night of Jan. 26, 2016, after the arrests of Ammon Bundy and others leaders, also worked in his favor, the judge said.

“On the other hand, you were part of the problem,” Brown told Stanek.

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Probation sentence expected for Oregon refuge occupier Geoffrey Stanek

Geoffrey Stanek, who pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy last year in the takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, should not face a sentence longer than the one-year probation given to three co-defendants who were allowed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor, his lawyer argues.

Stanek, 27, wasn’t at the refuge takeover from the start and didn’t stay until the end, like co-defendants Sean and Sandra Anderson who were among the last holdouts before their Feb. 11, 2016 surrender. The Anderson couple and co-defendant Dylan Anderson avoided a trial by pleading guilty to the misdemeanor charge of trespass this winter and were sentenced to one year of probation.

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Wesley Kjar, described as Ammon Bundy’s ‘personal security,’ pleads guilty to federal conspiracy charge

By Maxine Bernstein | The Oregonian/OregonLive | June 23, 2016 Wesley Kjar, described as one of Ammon Bundy’s personal bodyguards, pleaded guilty Thursday to a federal conspiracy charge stemming from the takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. “I agreed […]

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Judge skeptical refuge occupier Jason Patrick would follow release conditions if let out of jail

U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown said she was struggling to find “clear and convincing” evidence that Oregon refuge occupier Jason Patrick would follow court-imposed conditions if released from custody before sentencing.

Though prosecutors’ did not object to Patrick’s motion for release Friday, Brown said she was troubled by his past record: Patrick’s “insolent and disrespectful” behavior in court during trial, the three times he was late and then spoke back to the judge at trial, his difficulty gaining entry to the courthouse because of his lack of any personal photo ID, his prior pronouncement that he would rather sit in jail than wear a electronic anklet for GPS monitoring, and his underlying federal conspiracy conviction.

“This is a man who does not respect the authority of the United States courts or federal law generally,” Brown said. “This is a man who chooses which rules he wants to follow.”

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Oregon refuge occupier Jason Patrick wants out of jail, pending sentencing

Oregon refuge occupier Jason Patrick, who offered to be taken into custody just over two months ago after he was convicted of felony and misdemeanor charges, is asking to be released, pending his sentencing this fall.

“I think he’s just tired of being at the local jail,” his defense lawyer Andrew Kohlmetz said Friday. 

Patrick, 45, this time will abide by the conditions set for release, including electronic monitoring and home detention at his mother’s residence in Washington state, his lawyer said.

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Ken Medenbach talks of ‘We the People,’ and militias during probation violation hearing

EUGENE – Public lands occupier Kenneth Medenbach wound up before a judge again Monday and admitted that he violated the condition of his probation for a 2016 illegal camping conviction by going, of all places, back to federal court.

But this federal court happened to be in Nevada, and it featured co-defendants of the Bundy family, kindred spirits who have earned national attention for fighting federal ownership of public land.

Medenbach’s lawyer Matthew Schindler said he had never in his career heard of a defendant accused of a probation violation for going to court.

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Oregon’s chief federal judge recuses himself from move to stop Marcus Mumford’s practice in OR federal courts

Oregon’s chief federal district judge, who initiated a move to prevent Ammon Bundy’s lawyer Marcus Mumford from any further practice of law in any federal court in Oregon, has now recused himself from the proceeding, to avoid an appearance of a conflict.

In his place, he assigned U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour, the federal judge from Washington who had previously presided over the criminal charges filed against Mumford, to handle further proceedings.

U.S. District Judge Michael W. Mosman said he was recusing himself “in an abundance of caution,” and to avoid anyone raising challenges about his impartiality, according to an order filed in court.

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California resident who outed FBI informants in refuge takeover appears before federal judge

A federal judge Tuesday directed prosecutors to lay out their case in writing to support their argument that California resident Gary Hunt knowingly violated a court protective order by posting the names of informants who helped the FBI during the armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown also asked the government to address the “efficacy” of pursuing a contempt of court ruling, considering that Hunt already has spent seven days in jail and some of the FBI informants’ names came out during the course of two federal conspiracy trials stemming from the 41-day refuge occupation last year.

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Marcus Mumford: Judge’s move to stop him from practicing in OR federal courts ‘unwarranted’

Ammon Bundy’s lawyer Marcus Mumford called a judge’s push to revoke his ability to practice law in federal court in Oregon a “serious and stigmatizing” sanction and unwarranted.

The Utah-based lawyer has asked U.S. District Judge Michael W. Mosman for more time to respond.

Mumford also wants a full transcript of last fall’s refuge occupation trial to challenge what Mosman called Mumford’s repeated failures or refusals to observe court rulings, highlighted in about 545 pages of excerpts from the trial transcript.

Mumford was supposed to file his response to Mosman by Thursday, but instead filed an 11-page memo asking for at least 45 more days, noting the gravity of Mosman’s action and that it could significantly undermine his career.

He argued that many of the challenges he raised during Bundy’s trial resulted from U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown’s rulings that limited the scope of his questions in response to objections raised by prosecutors.

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Ken Medenbach to be placed under house arrest pending probation violation hearing

By Maxine Bernstein | The Oregonian/OregonLive | May 04, 2017 at 11:02 AM Kenneth Medenbach, taken into custody last month in Las Vegas where he had traveled to attend the Bunkerville trial, was ordered released from custody at 2 p.m. […]

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‘American Standoff’ director on Oregon occupation: ‘We weren’t trying to take a side’

Even though it officially ended on Feb. 11, 2016, the 41-day occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Eastern Oregon still stirs passionate opinions.

But Josh Turnbow, who directed “American Standoff,” a new documentary from the AT&T Audience Network about the occupation, says he wasn’t interested in taking sides.

“I was looking for an interesting documentary about where things were going in land management,” says Turnbow, a senior producer for content for DirecTV and AT&T.

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