By Ray Hagar, Nevada Newsmakers
The defendants in the Bunkerville standoff trial in Las Vegas are not getting a fair deal, newly-elected Las Vegas City Councilwoman Michele Fiore said Thursday on Nevada Newsmakers.
The federal government — in a legal narrative that included two hung juries, two trials and months of testimony in Las Vegas — is trying to establish a precedent that citizens should not question the federal government, Fiore said.
“The truth of the matter is that they have to set precedence, right, to never ever to stand up to the federal government, said Fiore. “We are not supposed to not stop tyranny, stop the overreach of the federal government. And unfortunately, there have been a lot of folks drinking this Kool-Aid that the government is correct.”
Fiore, a former member of the Nevada Assembly, has been a vocal defender of the Bundys and associates since the 2014 armed confrontation in Southern Nevada with federal agents near a ranch owned by Nevada cattleman and states’ rights figure Cliven Bundy.
The standoff was considered a victory by Bundy supporters against the Bureau of Land Management. Fiore also went to Oregon in 2016 to help with negotiations when members of the Bundy family and associates seized a federal wildlife refuge building in protest of BLM policies.
An Oregon federal jury acquitted Ammon and Ryan Bundy and five others in October.
Federal prosecutors have yet to secure a clear victory against the defendants in the Las Vegas trial, whom they accuse of conspiring to prevent a lawful roundup of Bundy’s cattle about 70 miles north of Las Vegas.
Yet for Fiore, it is frustrating to watch the trial after negotiating for members of the Bundy family and their associates during the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation and standoff in Oregon in 2016, she said.
Fiore called the current trail “an unprecedented, unjustifiable, unfair process.”
She added: “And that is disheartening to me because when I went to Oregon and got them out of that refuge, I said, ‘Let’s go through the process the right way.’ And so when I am sitting back here and I am seeing people not being able to get bail or bond.”
She insisted the Bundys are innocent and did not carry firearms during the standoff.
“They had no weapons,” she said. “You know what their weapons of destruction were? They were sitting on their horses. They had their Bible in their saddle and were holding an American flag. The Bundy boys did not have a firearm. So it is very difficult for me to watch the injustice that is happening.”
Fiore, who said she is a witness in the trial, was critical of federal prosecutors.
“I just wonder how people sleep at night, just lying, lying to the jury, lying to the judge,” she said.
Fiore has not seen any difference in the BLM’s attitude toward the Bundy since Donald Trump was elected president.
“Our President has 78 appointees to the BLM,” she said. “He’s only gotten three through. The head of the BLM is still the guy who was with the last administration. The staff has not changed simply because our U.S. Senate is blue-tagging everyone. Everyone that Trump wants to appoint to take over, they are giving them a big rigamarole.
“And it is really unfair because we (Republicans) didn’t do that with Obama. Republicans did not do that to Obama.”