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

It's been more than a year since the feds walked away from a showdown with Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy over grazing fees, and so far no federal charges have come against the rogue rancher or any of his armed associates. As a result, many of the same men who stood with Bundy then have become emboldened and have redirected their antics at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Oregon where an unknown number of militiamen remain today.

But experts say those militiamen shouldn't count on being let off the legal hook so easy. The evidence in this case, experts say, is mounting and regardless of the individual charges, holding armed squatters accountable is a matter of messaging and conviction at this point that the federal government cannot afford to cave on.

"The case in Nevada involved cows roaming on public lands ... Let’s just call that one level of wrong," said Paul Charlton, a former U.S. attorney in Arizona, told TPM. This incident, Charlton says is a whole new level of criminal.

"There are prosecutors who could do this kind of case in their sleep," Charlton said.

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In what is starting to look like a genius move, the federal government and local law enforcement have mostly kept their distance in the two weeks since an unknown number of out-of-town, rag-tag militiamen stormed the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Oregon and vowed to stay until the federal government turned over its land to local ranchers.

So far authorities have declined to confront the men or to put the squeeze on them by restricting movement to and from the refuge or even to turn off the electricity, which might help draw the men out of the compound in the freezing January days.

But the lack of confrontation by federal officials has not only prevented it from becoming the next Waco or Ruby Ridge but transformed it into a peculiar and mundane sideshow, a one-sided standoff where the militiamen's days are marked by visits from wacky outsiders like pretend judge Bruce Doucette coming to sniff out "evidence" against the federal government and from disgruntled community members ready for the men to leave already.

By leaving the would-be revolutionaries to their own devices, authorities have given them enough rope to hang themselves.

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For more than a week, the standoff at an Oregon wildlife refuge has appeared to be a strange and unpredictable armed dispute between the Bundy family, their allies and the federal government. But, in recent days, the refuge has also become somewhat of a stage for anyone with extremist views who is hungry to catch a headline.

The refuge has been visited by Bruce Doucette, 54, a self-proclaimed judge collecting "evidence" against the federal government for a citizen grand jury, Idaho lawmakers on a 'fact-finding mission,' uninvited militiamen from the Patriot movement who wanted to form a perimeter at the compound and individuals from Veterans on Patrol whose stated mission was to remove an occupier they deemed dangerous.

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David Fry came all the way from Ohio to the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Oregon to see the militia standoff for himself. He liked what he saw.

Fry – who has gone by the name of 'DefendYourBase' online, is a video gamer who once posted "Pray4ISIS" on his social media account and has called on the terrorist group to "nuke Israel."

Fry embodies the rag-tag nature of the Oregon standoff. While it is unknown how many people are gathered at the refuge, one thing is clear: The individuals there have all arrived for their own reasons.

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William Daniel Johnson has a vision for America. The Los Angeles-based lawyer thinks that the United States will see the creation of a white ethno-state within his lifetime.

“I think Trump’s candidacy is helping move us in that direction,” Johnson said in a Monday phone interview with TPM. “Whether he is elected or not, his candidacy is a big factor in helping destroy this middle-of-the-road Republican mindset.”

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