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Monday, July 15, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Despite Prior Testimony, Ammon Bundy|’Can’t Remember’ Occupation Details

PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) — After three days of explaining to jurors why the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge was justified, Ammon Bundy wrapped his testimony with a lightning-quick cross-examination in which he denied much of what he testified to on direct.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ethan Knight attempted to take advantage of Bundy's apparent strategy to forgo denying the facts of the government's case and instead emphasizing his belief that he did his patriotic duty by leading the January occupation that left dozens in jail, an estimated $6 million in damage to the refuge and one man dead.

Knight spent about 15 minutes mostly asking Bundy about statements he had made under direct examination. Using his usual earnest tone of voice, Bundy denied or claimed not to remember events he had recently described.

Bundy changed his tune about whether he was the leader of the occupation, claimed not to remember whether he was in Burns in November 2015 for a series of meetings he had earlier described having with Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward, and claimed he didn't remember talking about making changes to the refuge.

During questioning from his lawyer Marcus Mumford, Bundy had detailed the "improvements" he and his fellow occupiers made to the refuge in line with their belief that they could claim the deed to the federal property through the legal doctrine of adverse possession.

But he backpedaled when Knight asked him about the legal process he had earlier described with enthusiasm and certainty.

"So you could take those steps in any federal facility and it would be yours?" Knight asked.

"No," Bundy said. "There's a process. There's a time. There's a thing. You have to have a legitimate dispute. You can't just go do it for no reason."

To which Knight responded, "So you would decide what that reason would be and go do it?"

Bundy answered, "That would be the challenge."

Knight next asked whether Bundy felt that the responsibilities of federal government should be minimized.

"It should be limited, yes," Bundy said. "The people chartered the Constitution for a very narrow purpose. If it's not enumerated under the 10th Amendment, the federal government doesn't have the right to do it," Bundy said.

Bundy, who never shies away from a chance to whip out his pocket Constitution, offered to read the section aloud.

"No, thank you," Knight said.

Knight then turned to the federal loan Bundy took out in 2010 to fund his business, Valet Fleet Service. Bundy borrowed $530,000 from the Small Business Administration.

"I recall that it is through that, but I'm not sure exactly what that means," Bundy said.

Defense attorneys will likely continue to call witnesses through next week, before both sides dive into closing arguments.

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