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Family of rancher slain during wildlife refuge standoff sues US government and the FBI

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Family members of a rancher who was shot and killed by police during the 2016 armed occupation of a federal wildlife refuge have sued the U.S. government, Federal Bureau of Investigation, state of Oregon and others claiming he was willfully “executed.”

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Portland nearly two years to the day after Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, 54, was shot dead by Oregon State Police on Jan. 26, 2016, along a snow-covered road near the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

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“As it turns out, he was deliberately executed by a pre-planned government ambush, after he had exited his vehicle with his hands up,” the plaintiffs allege in their 48-page lawsuit.

“Along an isolated section of U.S. Route 395 in Harney County, Oregon where the only other people within miles were those who had set up the ambush, LaVoy Finicum was executed as he walked away from his truck in the deep snow,” the plaintiffs say in their court papers.

A spokeswoman for the FBI’s office in Portland, Beth Anne Steele declined to comment on the lawsuit, citing an agency policy of not responding in the press to pending litigation.

A spokesman for Oregon Governor Kate Brown said that her office would also have no comment. The Oregon State Police did not respond to requests by Reuters for comment on Friday afternoon.

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Finicum acted as a de facto spokesman for the group of some two dozen land rights protesters who seized buildings at the refuge on Jan. 2, 2016, a move sparked by the return to prison of two Oregon ranchers convicted of setting fires that spread to federal property in the area.

It also marked the latest flare-up in the so-called Sagebrush Rebellion, a decades-old conflict over federal control of millions of acres of land in the West.

Finicum, an Arizona rancher, was shot three times in the back after running from his pickup truck at a roadblock, a killing a county prosecutor later found “justified and necessary.”

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In October 2016, the leader of the standoff, activist Ammon Bundy, and six of his followers were acquitted of federal charges. Two other men who took part in the occupation were later convicted of federal conspiracy charges.

Earlier this month a judge threw out the criminal case against Ammon Bundy, his father Cliven, brother Ryan and another defendant over their 2014 standoff against federal agents in Nevada over cattle grazing rights, citing prosecutorial misconduct.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb, editing by G Crosse)

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‘Ridiculous’ for Trump’s team to ‘feed people this line’ that Ukraine didn’t know about the frozen aid: CNN contributor

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President Donald Trump and his associates have recently tried a new defense for the Ukraine scandal, claiming that there couldn't have been a quid pro quo because the Ukrainians were supposedly unaware of the military aid freeze the Trump apparently ordered to force them to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden.

On Wednesday's edition of CNN's "The Situation Room," Washington Post journalist David Swerdlick and his co-panelists smacked down that narrative.

"The New York Times reports that the Ukrainians learned in early August that aid was frozen and they were told to reach out to the acting White House Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney," said anchor Wolf Blitzer.

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Document reveals how the White House cheered up Trump after his meltdown at #MAGA rally in Dallas

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Last week, President Donald Trump sought to shore up political support in Texas by holding a campaign rally in Dallas.

During the rally, Trump told the crowd how he hated it when his children told him what they learned in school.

The president also suffered a meltdown and offered the crowd his impersonations.

Fox Nation host Tomi Lahren on Wednesday revealed a note she'd received from the White House reading, "Tomi, thank you for everything. Best wishes."

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‘Hard to overstate’ how badly Taylor’s testimony damaged Trump: Ex-federal prosecutor

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On Wednesday, former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti wrote for Politico Magazine that the testimony of Ukraine envoy William Taylor was devastating for President Donald Trump — and that if he keeps trying to deny wrongdoing, it will only get worse and maybe even force Senate Republicans' hand against him.

"It’s hard to overstate how much damage the testimony of Ukraine envoy William Taylor inflicted on President Donald Trump’s defense in the ongoing impeachment inquiry," wrote Mariotti. "On its face, Taylor’s testimony Tuesday established the quid pro quo that Trump has denied for weeks. But more importantly, Taylor’s detailed notes of the 'highly irregular' policy-making that he witnessed over the summer provide a roadmap to future testimony that could be even more harmful. Republicans have already begun to retreat from their 'no quid pro quo' line, but they will have to keep retreating because Taylor has almost single-handedly decimated the few witnesses who have provided some testimony that is favorable to Trump."

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