The co-chairman of Donald Trump’s New Hampshire “Veterans for Trump” group has arrived in Burns, Oregon, to assist the small cadre of armed men who are seeking to provoke a standoff with federal officials there.
That not-quite-standoff began over the weekend when a handful of men led by Ammon Bundy decided to turn a much larger peaceful protest over a decision to send two ranchers back to jail for arson into an armed struggle. The group’s numbers are small – especially compared to the 300 who reportedly joined the peaceful protest of the re-sentencing – but they have now been reinforced by Jerry DeLemus, a former United States Marine living on the opposite side of the country.
Trump himself has said little about the situation in Oregon, following the pattern of most of the GOP primary candidates. But on Tuesday he seemed to tell The Hill it was time for the Bundy crew to pack it in and go home. “You have to maintain law and order, no matter what,” he said.
It is at least the second time DeLemus has ridden to the physical aid of a Bundy. When Ammon’s father Cliven had his cattle impounded by the Bureau of Land Management in 2014 over more than $1 million in unpaid fines and fees for his use of public lands, DeLemus and his son drove 41 hours in three days to come help.
The impromptu militia DeLemus helped lead in Bunkerville, NV, eventually pushed the agency to return Bundy’s cattle under threat of violence. “If they made one wrong move, every single BLM agent in that camp would’ve died,” another leader of the group named Ryan Payne bragged to the Missoula Independent later. “We had counter-sniper positions on their sniper positions. We had at least one guy – sometimes two guys – per BLM agent in there.”
DeLemus’ job in Bunkerville was “chief of security,” according to RawStory, which reports he was personally responsible for dismissing the members of the Bundy brigade who later went on to kill two police in Las Vegas before being killed themselves by other officers. He says he’s come to Oregon to help ensure the younger Bundys and their adherents find a peaceful resolution and leave the refuge safely.
In a Facebook post explaining his decision, he also warned that a military psychological operation was taking place. “We must be level headed and remember there is a psyops war happening as well and all who were at Bunkerville know well what I’m talking about,” DeLemus wrote.
When a GQ reporter asked the Granite State man in 2014 how he thought the Bunkerville standoff might end, he said there was a “good chance” that federal agents would return and kill every member of Bundy’s brigade, promising his crew would shoot back if it came to it. “And I’ll tell you what, they’ll have a bloody nose, and I’ll tell you what: the American people will rise up,” he said. “Go ahead.”
DeLemus told reporters from the conspiracy theory-driven Next News Network at the time that “there’s great risk we may not come home” from Bunkerville. And a year earlier in New Hampshire, he told a crowd of Tea Party types that “We are in a similar position our Founding Fathers found themselves in and their decision to stand was equally difficult.”
He also believes President Obama is secretly Muslim, according to a June 2014 Facebook post about the return of U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl after five years as a captive of the Taliban. (The opening sequence of the podcast Serial’s current run of episodes on Bergdahl features Trump’s voice saying, “Y’know in the old days deserters were shot,” to raucous applause.) “You are a race baiter and a sure sign of how little time America has left,” he wrote to the president in another post.