Defenses in Bundy standoff trial focus on government conduct

Cattleman and states’ rights figure Cliven Bundy’s eldest son goes before a federal jury on Wednesday to provide firsthand allegations of government misconduct, a day after his father’s lawyer blamed federal agents for escalating tensions ahead of a 2014 gunpoint standoff near the family ranch in Nevada.

Ryan Bundy is serving as his own attorney in the trial that opened Tuesday with the top federal prosecutor Las Vegas casting him, his brothers and his father as leaders of a conspiracy to enlist armed militia members to force the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to abandon efforts to round up Bundy cattle from public rangeland.

In pretrial hearings, Ryan Bundy raised questions about FBI camera surveillance of the Bundy family homestead, and challenged federal prosecutors to turn over recordings of any videos that were made.

Acting U.S. Attorney Steven Myhre said there were none.

As the long-awaited trial opened in Las Vegas, Myhre rejected supporters’ characterizations of 71-year-old Cliven Bundy, sons Ryan and Ammon Bundy and co-defendant Ryan Payne as peaceful protesters of Western land policy freedom fighters.

“This case is not about protesting. This case is about breaking the law,” Myhre said. He cast the armed standoff as extortion and theft from the Bureau of Land Management of almost 400 Bundy cattle that had been rounded up.

Cliven Bundy’s lawyer, Bret Whipple, provided a first look at videos…

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