They've got muck; we've got rakes. TPM Muckraker

Richard Mack, a former Arizona county sheriff, was one of the better known activists to voice support for Bundy Ranch during its long-running standoff with federal officials over cattle grazing rights. In recent days, as tensions rose, he eventually made his way up to the Nevada ranch to join the fight.

In an interview with TPM on Wednesday, Mack portrayed a scene where the protesters genuinely believed they could be killed by federal agents at any moment. But he also backed off one of the more striking claims he'd made during the standoff. He caught national attention on Monday when he said the protesters were "strategizing to put all the women up at the front" in case the federal officials fired on them. He later said it "was a tactical ploy that I was trying to get them to use."

But Mack backtracked somewhat and told TPM he was mistaken when he said those things. The women had volunteered to go to the front, he said.

"The mistake I made was it was never a strategy. It was never strategized. It was never talked about. The women just did it," he said. "I was never privy to that, so I thought they did strategize that. I thought that would be the only way they would send women up to the front."

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Nevada cattle rancher Cliven Bundy, whose dispute with the Bureau of Land Management spurred a tense standoff between armed anti-government activists and federal officials over the weekend, had some strikingly specific directions for sheriffs across the country Monday night.

“Disarm the federal bureaucrats," Bundy said in an interview with Fox News's Sean Hannity. He had been asked to respond to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's assertion that the Bundy Ranch standoff (as it is now officially known on Wikipedia) was "not over."

Bundy had already asked his local sheriff to arrest the BLM officials who were rounding up his cattle, but he directed his new message to "every county sheriff in the United States."

Bundy's statement brought to the forefront a theory that some on the far right have held for decades: that local sheriffs are ordained with an immense amount of power, going beyond that of even federal authorities. In the Bundy Ranch dispute, that theory is the driving ideology of some of the groups that have rallied to the rancher's side. Those include the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association and the Oath Keepers, whose members are law enforcement officials and military who have pledged to defend the Constitution against government overreach.

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Federal authorities ended their round-up of a Nevada rancher's cattle on Saturday, citing public safety concerns as self-described militias gathered to protest the government action. At one point, armed individuals had blocked a section of an interstate highway, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

So, having effectively intimidated federal officials from performing their duties, right-wingers who had come to view the showdown as some kind of proxy battle for the future of American freedom quickly claimed victory.

"We won the battle," Ammon Bundy, one of rancher Cliven Bundy's sons, told Reuters.

Cliven Bundy has been feuding with the federal Bureau of Land Management over his use of federal land to graze his cattle. The BLM said it had instructed Bundy, who has not paid for land privileges since 1993, to keep his animals off the land before it started to round them up last week. Bundy countered that his claim to the land pre-dated the federal government's.

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A Louisiana newspaper claims to have surveillance video showing Rep. Vance McAllister (R-LA), a married freshman member of Congress who ran for office last year as a conservative Christian with the backing of the stars of the "Duck Dynasty" reality show, "passionately embracing and kissing" one of his female staffers.

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As co-chair of the legislative committee investigating the George Washington Bridge lane closures, New Jersey State Sen. Loretta Weinberg has spent months looking into the scandal.

On Thursday, Weinberg spoke with TPM about the state of investigation, and what she thinks of the recent report, produced by defense attorney Randy Mastro and a team of lawyers representing Christie's office, that cleared the governor of any involvement in plan to close the lanes. Weinberg called the report the latest in a series of attempts by Christie to put the scandal behind him. She has no plans to let that happen.

Below is a condensed and edited version of our interview:

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