The declaration of a mistrial by a federal judge in the long-running prosecution/persecution of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy (shown) deals yet another heavy blow to federal officials and sends a hopeful signal that the charges against Bundy and other defendants in the case may eventually be dropped entirely.
After reviewing sealed evidence of gross misconduct by federal prosecutors — and, worse, even criminal activity by federal BLM agents — Chief U.S. District Court Judge Gloria Navarro, on Wednesday, declared a mistrial in the case against Bundy and his co-defendants, Ammon Bundy, Ryan Bundy, and Ryan Payne.
“The judge is obligated to disclose all evidence that might be favorable” to defense attorneys, Judge Navarro said, in a decision that cited five areas where federal prosecutors had failed to disclose information, as required by law.
She said the federal prosecution had failed to disclose information of critical importance to the defendants and their attorneys, among which are:
• records about federal surveillance and federal snipers at the Bundy Ranch;
• FBI logs about federal activity at the ranch in the days around the standoff;
• threat assessments concerning the Bundys dating to 2012; and
• internal affairs reports about blatant misconduct by federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) agents.
Certainly among the most important information that was withheld are the explosive revelations from BLM whistleblower Larry Wooten, which were reported in detail by The New American’s Alex Newman prior to the judge’s declaration of mistrial. Among other shocking disclosures contained in Newman’s report are the following details taken from a report by Wooten to his superiors:
Wooten said he was told by BLM law-enforcement supervisors that BLM boss Dan Love, who was a key figure in the Bunkerville showdown between the BLM and the Bundy family, had a “Kill Book.” He kept this as a “trophy” to commemorate his role in the death of various victims, Wooten said. Love, who also was accused of sending photos of his own feces and his girlfriend's genitalia to co-workers, “in essence bragged about getting three individuals in Utah to commit suicide,” Wooten's memo said. The out-of-control bureaucrat apparently bragged about removing evidence, as well as his ability to quash investigations into his wildly inappropriate behavior. He would tell others that “he is untouchable,” while urging his co-workers not to cooperate with investigations into his harassment, abuse, and even potential criminal activity.
Nevada’s senior U.S. senator (recently retired) had assisted in the persecution of the Bundy family and their supporters, calling them “domestic terrorists,” a label that many organs of the so-called mainstream news adopted to poison public opinion against the growing outrage concerning federal abuses in the Western states. The Wooten whistleblower memos, along with other revelations of staggering abuses only hinted at in Judge Navarro’s mistrial decision, indicate that it is the federal authorities that have been carrying out a campaign of terror against ordinary, hardworking, law-abiding Americans.
Predictably, the “mainstream” media, which rarely fails to take up the causes of icons chosen by the leftwing Victim Lobby — convicted cop killer Mumia Abu Jamal, terrorist Bill Ayers, Trayvon Martin, FALN terrorist Oscar Lopez-Rivera, etc. — has taken a pass on this blockbuster story. The exposure of egregious abuses — including criminal conduct by federal agents — has not interested many “investigative reporters” of the Fourth Estate.
Retrial After Retrial After Retrial
The big questions in the aftermath of Judge Navarro’s ruling are whether Cliven Bundy and the Bunkerville co-defendants will walk away free men, or will they be subjected to yet another retrial? Will Attorney General Jeff Sessions intervene and put an end to what is an obvious misuse of federal resources? And will he begin an investigation (and, where appropriate, prosecution) of the federal bureaucrats and officials who violated the rights of the Bundys and their co-defendants?
Along with her declaration of mistrial, Judge Navarro has set a tentative new trial date for February 26, 2018. That means the defendants could be subject to a whole new round of litigation. However, with the new Trump administration gradually gaining control over the vast federal bureaucracy, and with federal prosecutors already suffering several serious black eyes in the case, the Department of Justice could decide to drop charges. The mistrial ruling is the latest in a string of courtroom defeats for federal prosecutors in the Bundy ranch case, as well as in the related case involving members of the Bundy family at another standoff with federal officials in Oregon in 2016.
As we reported in October of 2016, an Oregon jury delivered a stunning blow to federal prosecutors, acquitting seven principal defendants in the five-week-long trial of participants in the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The jury acquitted brothers Ammon and Ryan Bundy, along with five of their co-defendants, of charges of conspiring to use “force, intimidation, and threats” to prevent federal employees from working at the refuge. They were also charged with possessing a firearm in a federal facility with the intent that it “be used in the commission of a crime.” Co-defendants Shawna Cox, Kenneth Medenbach, Jeff Banta, David Fry, and Neil Wampler were also aquitted.
Then, in April 2016, a Nevada jury deadlocked in the trial of six supporters of the Bundy family charged with multiple felony violations in connection with the 2014 ranch confrontation. A stunning turn in that trial came when it was revealed that one of the defendants, Gregory Burleson of Phoenix, Arizona, was actually a paid informant for the FBI. Even worse, he was an agent provocateur, making incriminating threats and boasts to bolster the federal case against the Bundys.
Judge Navarro was forced to declare a mistrial. However, rather than dismissing the case completely, releasing the defendants, and sanctioning the prosecutors and the FBI, she allowed the prosecution to come back and try them on new charges. That appears to be the case once again. However, Bundy supporters are hopeful that the announced decision for a retrial, scheduled for February, will be reconsidered and that charges will be dropped altogether. Navarro unexpectedly granted the three Bundys (Cliven and sons Ammon and Ryan) and co-defendant Ryan Payne pre-trial release on November 29. Cliven Bundy, who has already been incarcerated for more than 21 months, elected to remain in prison as a matter of principle, accepting release only when totally exonerated.
“My father's position on not coming out is that he's an innocent man,” Ryan Bundy told reporters. “He's not guilty of any crime. And the standard in America is that we are innocent until proven guilty. It's the government's responsibility and it's their duty and their obligation to provide that proof. We shouldn't have been in jail, not one day.”
The pre-trial release and the declaration of mistrial are viewed with mixed feelings by the Bundy family and its many supporters. The videos of children and spouses reuniting with Ammon and Ryan Bundy after nearly two years of separation (which can be viewed on the Bundy Ranch Facebook page) leave no doubt as to their joy at having their fathers and husbands home for Christmas. It is equally clear, though, that their joy will be dampened by the fact that the family patriarch remains behind bars. However, as Cliven’s wife Carol heroically explains in a video recorded outside the federal courthouse in Las Vegas, she and the rest of the family stand behind Cliven’s principled decision, and believe that, ultimately, righteous justice will prevail.
Photo of Cliven Bundy: AP Images