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All defendants in the Oregon standoff found not guilty

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A federal court jury on Thursday acquitted anti-government militant leader Ammon Bundy and six followers of conspiracy charges stemming from their role in the armed takeover of a U.S. wildlife center in Oregon earlier this year.

Bundy and others, including his brother and co-defendant Ryan Bundy, cast the 41-day occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge as a legitimate and patriotic act of civil disobedience. Prosecutors called it a lawless scheme to seize federal property by force.

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(READ MORE: Ammon Bundy’s attorney Tased and arrested after Oregon standoff verdict)

In an emotional climax to the trial in U.S. District Court in Portland, Ammon Bundy’s lawyer, Marcus Mumford, was tackled to the floor by U.S. marshals as he became involved in a heated verbal exchange with the judge over the terms of his client’s release.

Moments earlier, gasps of astonishment rose from the packed courtroom. Attorneys exchanged looks of excitement with the defendants, then hugged their clients as the not-guilty verdicts were read. Family members and supporters of the accused erupted in jubilation.

Outside the courthouse, supporters celebrated by shouting “Hallelujah” and reading passes from the U.S. Constitution. One man road his horse, named Lady Liberty, in front of the courthouse carrying an American flag.

The verdict came hours after a newly reconstituted jury, with an alternate seated to replace one panelist dismissed over questions of bias on Wednesday, renewed deliberations in the case. Jurors previously had deliberated over three days.

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The 12-member panel found the Bundy brothers and their four co-defendants – three men and a woman – not guilty of the most serious charge, conspiracy to impede federal officers through intimidation, threats or force.

That charge alone carried a maximum penalty of six years in prison.

The defendants also were unanimously acquitted of illegal possession of firearms in a federal facility and of theft of government property, except in the case of Ryan Bundy, for whom jurors deadlocked on the charge of theft.

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During the takeover and at trial, the occupiers said they acted out of solidarity with two Oregon ranchers they believed were unfairly treated in an arson case and to protest their larger grievances against federal control over millions of acres of public lands in the West.

(READ MORE: ‘Sad day for America’: Internet furious about #OregonStandoff verdict vs. treatment of #BlackLivesMatter and #StandingRock)

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ONE DEATH

The standoff led to the shooting death of one protester by police and left parts of the refuge badly damaged.

While a number of self-styled militia groups had rallied to Bundy’s cause, the occupation generated little sympathy from authorities in nearby Harney County. The sheriff called on the group to end its siege peacefully just after three days, telling them, “It’s time for you to leave our community.”

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As the protest wore on, the occupiers drew ridicule on social media and anonymous deliveries of sex toys, glitter and nail polish at the compound.

More than two dozen people, in all, have been criminally charged in the Malheur occupation, and a second group of defendants is due to stand trial in February.

The Bundy brothers still face assault, conspiracy and other charges stemming from a separate armed standoff in 2014 at the Nevada ranch of their father, Cliven Bundy.

How soon any of the seven defendants from the trial concluded on Thursday would be released was not immediately clear.

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(Reporting by Scott Bransford in Portland; Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Sandra Maler and Cynthia Osterman)


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GOP Sen. Ron Johnson: ‘My guess’ is John Bolton is telling truth about Trump and Ukraine

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Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), who once personally lobbied President Donald Trump to release the hold on military aid to Ukraine, seemed to give former national security adviser John Bolton some credibility while talking with reports on Monday.

Politico's Kyle Cheney reports that Johnson said that "my guess is John Bolton tells the truth," although he said he still wanted to hear the Trump administration's full case and also questioned the "exquisite" timing of the leak about Bolton's upcoming book, in which he reportedly says Trump told him he was holding up military aid to Ukraine until it agreed to launch an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden.

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‘Cat is out of the bag’: Trump supporter Byron York reverses and says GOP must allow Bolton impeachment testimony

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The Washington Examiner's Byron York has long been sympathetic to President Donald Trump. He has repeatedly defended the president's conduct in Ukraine and attacked the Democratic case. Just a week ago, he penned a column criticizing the idea that Trump has been less cooperative in the impeachment trial than President Bill Clinton. And in particular, he has opposed Democratic demands for former National Security Adviser John Bolton to be called to testify against the president, saying, "if anything is covered by executive privilege, it would be the president's private conversations with his national security adviser about issues of foreign policy and national security."

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Mitt Romney: GOP senators ‘increasingly likely’ to call John Bolton to testify in impeachment trial

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John Bolton's book bombshell may have broken President Donald Trump's grip on the Republican Party.

The former national security adviser's forthcoming book "The Room Where It Happened" claims Trump explicitly tied Ukraine aid to an investigation of Joe Biden, and GOP senators are publicly saying they want him to testify during the impeachment trial.

“I think it’s increasingly likely that other Republicans will join those of us who think we should hear from John Bolton," said Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT).

.@SenatorRomney tells reporters just now: “I think it’s increasingly likely that other Republicans will join those of us who think we should hear from John Bolton.”

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