The feds have wanted to get their hands on Bundy since the April 2014 standoff at his Nevada ranch, when federal agents attempted to round up a herd of cattle that Bundy had allowed to illegally graze on public land for decades. Bundy swiftly summoned hundreds of armed supporters to his cause, causing federal authorities to back down for fear of inciting bloodshed.
After that, Bundy was rarely seen in public without a coterie of armed guards, according to the federal complaint, making apprehending him a dangerous prospect. The FBI finally captured him last week and, on Wednesday, a judge denied him bail for fear that he'd simply bunker up at his ranch and refuse to comply with court orders, as he has for decades.
To make that argument, Justice Department lawyers filed a truly remarkable memo Tuesday. The memo is an indictment of Bundy, his character, his family, his ranch, his followers — even (and especially) his cows.
Below, I've assembled some of the Justice Department lawyers' sickest burns against Bundy and company. It's all great fun, but do remember this: In the eyes of the law, Bundy remains innocent until proven guilty. The statements below are what federal lawyers say about him. Whether there's any truth to this will be for a jury to decide.
1. Bundy is an outlaw
"Bundy is lawless and violent. He does not recognize federal courts – claiming they are illegitimate – does not recognize federal law, refuses to obey federal court orders, has already used force and violence against federal law enforcement officers while they were enforcing federal court orders, nearly causing catastrophic loss of life or injury to others."
2. He is also a bad rancher
"While Bundy claims he is a cattle rancher, his ranching operation – to the extent it can be called that – is unconventional if not bizarre. Rather than manage and control his cattle, he lets them run wild on the public lands with little, if any, human interaction until such time when he traps them and hauls them off to be sold or slaughtered for his own consumption."
3. His cows don't even like him
"[Bundy] has no knowledge of where all the cattle are located at any given time; rarely brands them before he captures them; and has to bait them into traps in order to gather them."
4. Bundy is mean to his cows
"Raised in the wild, Bundy’s cattle are left to fend for themselves year-round, fighting off predators and scrounging for the meager amounts of food and water available in the difficult and arid terrain that comprises the public lands in that area of the country."
5. Bundy's cows are also mean
"Bereft of human interaction, his cattle that manage to survive are wild, mean and ornery."
6. Bundy's cows are a public nuisance
"Bundy’s cattle numbered over 1,000 head, straying as far as 50 miles from his ranch and into the Lake Mead National Recreation Area ('LMNRA'), getting stuck in mud, wandering onto golf courses, straying onto the freeway (causing accidents on occasion) – foraging aimlessly and wildly."
7. Bundy lacks principles
"Bundy claims he has strong anti-federal government views, proclaiming that the federal government cannot own land under the U.S. Constitution. These are not principled views – and certainly they have no merit legally."
8. Bundy's in it for the money
Bundy's views "serve conveniently as a way for Bundy to somehow try to convince others that he has some reason for acting lawlessly, other than the obvious one: it serves his own ends and benefits him financially."
9. Bundy is a moocher
Bundy "continued in his scofflaw ways, ignoring BLM [Bureau of Land Management] regulations and restrictions pertaining to his use of the public lands, allowing his cattle to run wild and refusing to pay for the forage he leached off the taxpayers."
10. Bundy lies to kids
"Contrary to the fiction recited by Bundy and his Followers to others, including children, there is no First or Second Amendment right or other right recognized in the law anywhere that gives anyone the right to use or carry, let alone brandish, raise or point, a firearm in order to assault, intimidate, interfere with or prevent a federal law enforcement officer from performing his or her duties – whether one thinks the officer is acting constitutionally or not."
11. Bundy is a menace to society
"There are no conditions or combination of conditions that any federal court could impose to protect the community from his lawless activity, whether that community is comprised of the citizens using the public lands or federal law enforcement officers and civilian employees attempting to manage the resources and enforce the laws. All are subject to Bundy’s threats of violence."
Hell hath no fury like a Justice Department lawyer scorned.