Ammon Bundy, the leader of a group of armed occupants at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, showed up unexpectedly at the airport in Burns Thursday to talk with a negotiator from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The negotiator wasn’t on site, and Bundy spoke with him by phone, standing outside the concrete barriers at the base.
“The only ones that are going to make this a non-peaceful event will be you guys — the FBI or other law enforcement,” Bundy told the negotiator by phone.
“I want to keep the dialogue going. We want to work together with you,” the negotiator said to Bundy.
The negotiator did not say his name, but other FBI agents present confirmed his role as a mediator.
Several other militants, including Ryan Payne and Brian Cavalier (who goes by the pseudonym “Fluffy Unicorn”), accompanied Bundy to the FBI base.
Three plainclothes FBI agents and a few sheriff’s deputies were also on the scene. In a conversational tone, the negotiator told Bundy that they are dealing with some significant issues that could take some time to work through.
“And take some other people that have some more experience to really get together on this and work together, to find a good resolution,” said the negotiator.
“I want to make sure that you understand: The resolution is the Constitution of the United States,” said Bundy. “How we get there, I realize there’s some steps and some things we need to do. But we’ve compromised that supreme law long enough.”
Bundy said the negotiator contacted him for the first time Wednesday by phone.
He was hoping to talk with him in person at the FBI base. The two ended the conversation with a promise to speak again Friday.
Bundy asked to talk with the negotiator face to face next time.
Before they hung up, Bundy asked the negotiator if he’s LDS — a member of the church of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The negotiator said he is not.
Bundy told reporters that meant he’d lost a bet.
“That’s just usually how they do it. They get people that are like-minded. The FBI, they’re smart people, they want to get along,” said Bundy.
“We’re glad to open a dialogue with him,” said Craig Overby, one of the three FBI agents present for the conversation. "What we have in common is we want a peaceful resolution. And I think he wants that too.”
The FBI would not comment on any plans for future negotiations with the occupiers, but said in a statement that its response has been "deliberate and measured."