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Cliven Bundy, safe at home. Scott Drexler, ready to shoot some feds.

Good ol’ welfare “rancher” Cliven Bundy and his supporters are finally facing trial for their Great Big Freedom Standoff with the federal government (the Nevada one in 2014, not the Oregon one in 2016, which only involved Bundy’s sons Ammon and Ryan). Of course, if Cliven Bundy has his druthers, he’ll get his case separated from the trial of his followers, because now he’s contending that he didn’t have nothing to do with no armed “stand-off” with the feds.

As Forbes columnist JJ MacNab, an expert on militia wingnuts and Sovereign Citizen types, explained in a series of tweets earlier this week, Bundy has filed a request to sever his case from the other defendants. Here’s the motion!

That’s some excellent lawyerin’ there! The motion argues Bundy shouldn’t be tried with those riffraff who got into an armed confrontation with federal law enforcement officers, because while the militia folks he summoned to come protect him went out — of their own accord — to go stop the feds from seizing his starving cattle, Bundy himself stayed safe at home. He never carried a gun while speaking to any federal agents, never threatened any federal agents, and definitely never pointed any guns at federal law enforcement officers, no sir! (Missing from the motion is any mention of Bundy’s contention that the Bureau of Land Management has no right to have armed officers, because why would he muddy the issue once he gets to court?) Bundy peacefully stayed home while his followers went out and played Freedom Fighter, aiming sniper rifles at the feds, and by golly, he never even asked anyone to go confront the feds, no he did not. He is shocked, shocked, that anyone would think he was somehow the leader of these free men who happened to show up to protect the brave rancher from a tyrannical, out-of-control bunch of government agents.

As MacNab explains (we’ll copypaste several tweets here),

Bundy went to court, argued his case [regarding his failure to pay grazing fees — Dok Z.] & lost. The appropriate response would have been to appeal his case. Instead he hyped up 410 angry people and sent them into a wash to intimidate fed LEOs into releasing impounded cattle. Bundy’s plan worked.

It was a successful act of violent civil disobedience.

1) Bundy got his cattle released, and 2) it generated huge attention to his cause.

Bundy convinced a lot of people to break laws on his behalf. Civil disobedience, whether peaceful or violent, has a trade off. The benefit: the release of the impounded cattle + attention for cause. The cost: those who participated by breaking the law can go to jail.

One day, maybe, supporters will take a critical look at what Bundy told them and realized they were used. Probably not, though. There’s already some indication that Cliven Bundy will try to distance himself from what happened at the wash on 4/12/2014. While he sent hundreds of angry men, women, and children to confront the feds that day, he stayed home.

Attorneys for the militia dudes charged with threatening federal officers argue the Feds were actually so completely out of control and tyrannical that Bundy supporters had no choice but to pack heat when they went out to demand the release of Bundy’s cattle, so of course setting up sniper positions on an overpass was REALLY just a matter of self defense. Unfortunately for them, U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro isn’t allowing any testimony about the days leading up to the armed confrontation. The defense attorneys wanted to introduce as evidence videos of federal officers using stun guns against Bundy’s sons and tackling a demonstrator, but the judge wasn’t having it:

Navarro sided with the federal government when she ruled that testimony related to authorities’ pre-standoff behavior was “irrelevant to whether there’s excessive force or reasonable force” on the day of the standoff. A self-defense argument is permissible only if there is evidence that police’s actions were not “objectively reasonable,” Navarro ruled.

Defense attorney Todd Leventhal said the case against his client, Idaho resident Scott Drexler, hinged on “whether or not it was reasonable to go over there and think that he’d get shot.”

Drexler — who on the day of the standoff was photographed pointing a long gun through a jersey barrier on a highway bridge — argues that the officers’ excessive force made his actions defensible.

Bummer. It’s almost as if the militants’ expectation that they’d have the chance to start a whole new American revolution is working against them instead of serving as their defense.

They probably shouldn’t expect Cliven Bundy to stand up for them either. He’s pretty sure he barely even knows those guys.

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[LA Times / JJ MacNab on Twitter / Las Vegas Review-Journal]

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