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Jailed cattle rancher Cliven Bundy claims President Barack Obama, Nevada Sen. Harry Reid and others have stifled his constitutional rights as he sits in solitary confinement on charges stemming from a 2014 federal standoff, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday.
Bundy, 70, is seeking $50 million for the "illegal, unconstitutional, intentional and malicious acts" of the defendants, and wants an indictment against him quashed and his immediate release from jail in Portland, Oregon.
Bundy added that he's been in solitary since his arrest earlier this year — which constitutes "cruel and unusual punishment," claims the suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Nevada.
Bundy also wants federal Judge Gloria Navarro, named as another defendant, removed from the criminal case and for politically conservative attorney Larry Klayman to help defend him in Nevada.
The cowboy hat-wearing Bundy became a national figure — and hero in some conservative corners — when he led an armed confrontation against federal rangers over a land dispute in his home state of Nevada. The father of 14 — along with his posse of supporters — clashed with the rangers who tried to execute a court order to confiscate 500 of his cattle after they were illegally grazing on public land and he failed to pay $1 million in grazing fees.
Bundy, who has pleaded not guilty, was indicted for inciting the standoff, along with two of his sons and two others.
The complaint lays out a conspiracy against Bundy perpetrated by Obama, Reid, Navarro and Reid's son, Rory Reid, who unsuccessfully ran for Nevada governor in 2010.
Navarro "has shown her true intentions and bias and prejudice, rising to the level of denying Sixth Amendment right of counsel and to a speedy trial to (Bundy), following the 'marching orders' of her benefactors Defendant Harry Reid and Obama," according to the suit.
She is also described as a "Latino activist."
Bundy alleges Reid used "the equivalent of federal storm-troopers" against Bundy’s "peaceful cowboys," and that Reid wanted Bundy gone so that he could seize his land and then sell it to the Chinese.
In the suit, Bundy also takes issue with Obama, who had alluded to the rancher in jokes that he made during the White House Correspondents' Dinner in May 2014.
Amid the standoff, Bundy drew condemnation for referring to blacks as "the Negro" in a New York Times article and suggesting that they were "happier" under slavery than under current federal subsidy programs.
The complaint says that Obama was "threatening, mocking and disparaging" Bundy just "days after (his) successful standoff."
During his correspondents' dinner monologue, Obama said: "Michelle and I watched the Olympics — we cannot believe what these folks do — death-defying feats — haven’t seen somebody pull a '180' like that fast since Rand Paul disinvited that Nevada rancher from this dinner."
"As a general rule, things don’t end well if the sentence starts, 'Let me tell you something I know about the negro,'" Obama continued. "You don’t really need to hear the rest of it. Just a tip for you — don’t start your sentence that way."
Bundy is seeking a jury trial. The White House did not immediately comment on the lawsuit, but Sen. Reid's office branded it as "baseless and absurd."
"Bundy, his sons and their believers have endangered the lives of federal officers, have defaced and damaged public lands and squandered public resources for their own benefit. They are domestic terrorists," said Reid spokeswoman Kristen Orthman, offering a term the Democratic senator himself has used publicly. "They are deadly and dangerous and will be brought to justice."
The rancher was arrested in February after flying from Nevada to Portland to join his sons, who were jailed for their role leading an armed occupation at a federal wildlife reserve in Oregon.
Sons Ammon and Ryan Bundy have pleaded not guilty and face conspiracy charges along with 14 others stemming from the 41-day occupation that began Jan. 2. One armed protester was killed when federal agents stopped a caravan of the occupiers during a traffic stop.