“It cannot be illegal to tell your government to follow the law!”
by Shari Dovale
Closing arguments began today in the Malheur Protest Trial in Portland. Ethan Knight spoke for two hours for the prosecution.
Focusing on the “Rule of Law”, Knight seemed to want to drill it in to the jurors that they cannot go outside the law. He did not mention ‘nullification‘ but he did stress that this case is about the defendants, specifically Ammon Bundy, picking and choosing which laws applied to him.
Knight spent quite a bit of time reminding the jurors that the charge of conspiracy does not require a formal agreement, it can be inferred. The government, who must prove the case, does not have to prove that the defendants actually threatened or intimidated anyone, as that is not the crime. The crime is all about the inference of doing it.
Like the “Thought Police” in George Orwell’s 1984.
Knight also tried to convince everyone that Sheriff Ward was really trying to DE-escalate the situation by calling the FBI on the very first day.
Additionally, he made comments about Butch Eaton crying on the witness stand, however he was “free to support anyone he wants.”
Knight tried to make it seem as if the only people that testified for the defense were their personal friends. He conveniently forgot about Rodney Cooper, Sheriff Ward’s cousin or Pat Horlacher, the Burns resident that was afraid for his family until he went to the refuge himself.
Overall, Knight’s closing was not very effective and it appeared that many of the jurors were fighting sleep during his opining. He came off as lame and a whiner, after all it isn’t about actually doing anything wrong, it is about talking about doing something wrong.
Marcus Mumford was up next.
The attorney for Ammon Bundy was talking for most of the afternoon, with a few breaks thrown in the mix. He covered a lot of information, mentioning each of the defendants and various points during the day.
Mumford reminded jurors that the FBI was involved from the beginning, yet made no attempt at stopping the protest because it was not illegal. Even Steven Grasty had to admit the confirmation of this in his office on January 9th during the meeting with the Coalition of Western States (COWS).
Mumford also reminded the jurors that there were more confidential informants at the refuge than there are defendants in this trial. One of the informants, Fabio Monoggio, took over the shooting range and firearms training, which included a video taken at the boat launch. This was conveniently done the day after he arrived. This man, who went by the name of John Killman, was only at the refuge for about 3 days, yet was able to take part in the protest, train people in hand to hand combat and firearms, and make a video the prosecution claims is proof that showed the protesters as very dangerous.
Wasn’t it lucky for the FBI that their paid informant was able to accomplish so much in such a short period of time?
During a break in his closing, the prosecution objected to a slide that Mumford wanted to show the jury. It was a quote from Justice Antonin Scalia on the Heller decision concerning gun control. Judge Anna Brown sustained that objection and would not let that quote in front of the jury.
Mumford hammered home the fact that the government promised the jury tons of evidence, but did not produce it.
He followed up with telling the jurors that it is not illegal to hold your government accountable. “It cannot be illegal to tell your government to follow the law!” Mumford said.
Overall, he came off as very effective. The closing hour was very engaging, and you could tell the jury was paying attention. He played a few videos of Ammon and LaVoy Finicum that were very powerful.
He reminded the jury of how the system is set up. That they are the heart and lungs of Liberty. “The US Constitution makes you the last stand.” he told them. “Stand alone if you must, but stand.”
Actually, I think he hit it out of the park!