Congressional hearings may follow
Utah Representative Rob Bishop (R) has ordered Brian Steed, the acting chairman of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to deliver a report on the handling of the Bundy case. Judge Gloria Navarro declared a mistrial in the federal case against Cliven, Ryan, and Ammon Bundy, and Ryan Payne, on December 21, 2017. She ruled it a mistrial with prejudice January 8, 2018, dropping the charges against the men.
The Las Vegas Review Journal reports that a congressional hearing is expected to follow the BLM’s report, which Bishop ordered to be delivered by January 24.
“The failures in the Bundy case and previous cases display serious misconduct by the BLM law enforcement officials, and strongly suggest that there are systemic issues within BLM’s law enforcement operations,” Bishop said.
Concerns have also grown that the mistrial will embolden people to act violently against federal authorities in future disputes. Arizona Representative Raul Grijalva (D) has ordered a Government Accountability Office study, which is currently ongoing, “on the scale of recent threats and attacks against BLM officials and property,” according to the Las Vegas review article. “’You’ve emboldened people like Bundy and the way they think—that it’s OK to threaten federal marshals with weapons, to occupy an area, armed, and talk about violence and foment that,’ Grijalva said.”
The Bundys argued that the April 12, 2014 armed standoff between the family and their supporters, and the BLM law enforcement, was the result of the aggressive posture taken by the BLM during the operation to round up Cliven Bundy’s trespassing cattle. The information the prosecution was accused of withholding from the defense in the case confirmed some of the Bundys’ claims regarding the BLM’s actions.
Currently, a bill has been introduced to the House committee on natural resources that would require the Department of the Interior to “terminate the Bureau of Land Management Office [and U.S. Forest Service] of Law Enforcement and cease using Interior employees to perform law enforcement functions on federal lands.” The bill still awaits action by the committee.
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