WH Says Obama ‘Aware’ of Armed Bundy Mob Standoff, But Considers it Local Matter


As the armed takeover of a federal facility in Oregon by a mob led by the sons of mooching racist rancher Cliven Bundy enters its third day, the White House was asked to weigh in on the standoff, with predictable results. In a White House daily briefing that was mostly dominated by President Obama’s impending executive action on gun control, Press Secretary Josh Earnest didn’t seem to want to touch this armed mob with a ten-foot pole.

Earnest noted that the President is “aware of” and “concerned” about the situation, but not so much so that he will be talking about it with Attorney General Loretta Lynch. When pressed, Earnest continued to insist that the siege is mainly a local matter, and punted questions to the Department of the Interior:

“The President is aware of the situation, I would be surprised if it came up in the context of the conversation the President is planning to have later today with the attorney general. The FBI has indicated they are working with local law enforcement officials to resolve the situation, and we are hopeful that situation can be resolved peacefully and without violence.”

“…I’m not sure the President has spent a lot of time considering the case of the individuals carrying out this. Ultimately this is a local law enforcement matter and the FBI is monitoring the situation and offering support to local law enforcement officials.”

It is entirely expected that the White House has obviously prepared for questions on this by going into punt mode, as this situation is still developing, but it is also part of a disturbing pattern that dates back to the original Bundy Ranch standoff.

Until today, the White House has only ever been asked about the Bundys once, back in June of last year:

“Now that the Nevada shooters have been implicated as having been supporters of Cliven Bundy, was the President satisfied with the way that the Bureau of Land Management handled the standoff at the Bundy Ranch? You had these armed militia guys pointing loaded weapons at law enforcement officials, and that was just, they sort of just let that go, and backed off. Is the President satisfied with the way that whole thing was handled?”

Although my question was clearly about the standoff that ended two months ago, and not about the shooting in Las Vegas this past weekend, Earnest used it as an excuse not to comment.

I’m reluctant to delve into this whole situation, because I know there is an ongoing investigation in Las Vegas surrounding this tragic shooting that we saw there over the weekend,” Earnest said. “I don’t want to get ahead of that investigation that’s ongoing.”

Earnest didn’t want to comment then, and doesn’t want to talk about it now, mainly because until one of these situations actually does boil over, there’s absolutely zero political or substantive upside. However, there’s little excuse for the White House press corps to have ignored the previous standoff, its connection with the Vegas shootings, and to only ask one question about it today during a briefing about gun violence. Hello, McFly, this is an armed mob laying siege to a federal building!

As has been observed ad infinitum, if this were a group of anyone other than white men, this would likely be a very different story.

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