Trump pardons OR ranchers who set fires on federal land

Clay Curtis
July 11, 2018

President Donald Trump pardoned two men on Tuesday who were involved in a dispute with federal authorities over federal land usage that sparked the takeover of a wildlife refuge in Oregon.

The federal pursuit of the Hammonds followed years of permit violations and unauthorized fires, and they never accepted responsibility, said Oregon's former U.S. Attorney Amanda Marshall.

In its statement Tuesday, the White House called the appeal "overzealous" and the resulting sentence "unjust".

I don't know or care whether Dwight and Steven Hammond were unfairly sentenced. They have also paid $400,000 to the United States to settle a related civil suit.

"The Hammonds are devoted family men, respected contributors to their local community, and have widespread support from their neighbors, local law enforcement, and farmers and ranchers across the West", Sanders said, adding: "Justice is overdue".

The announcement came as President Trump set out for North Atlantic Treaty Organisation meetings in Brussels, Belgium.

But they send a message that Trump also delivered with his previous pardon of lawless Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio: which is that when a certain kind of (white) frontier-justice renegade decides to defy the federal government, it's the offender, not the government, who gets the benefit of the doubt.

The Malheur 7, as they came to be known, were later acquitted of the government's charges by a jury.

The nonprofit would not have objected to Trump simply commuting the Hammonds' sentences and setting them free, Weiss said.

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Their convictions have drawn sharp rebukes from the local community amid allegations that the family was aggressively prosecuted using anti-terrorism statutes because they were outspoken about public land use in rural Oregon.

Trump signed the order granting clemency to 76-year-old Dwight Hammond and his son, Steven Hammond, 49, who were convicted of arson in 2012 for fires that burned on federal land in 2001 and 2006.

Their plight prompted Ammon and Ryan Bundy's Citizens for Constitutional Freedom to stage a protest, occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in southeastern OR from January 2 to February 11, 2016.

"If the Hammonds are jailed for unintentionally losing control of a backfire, so should BLM agents, whose gross mismanagement causes death and destruction every summer", she said.

The federal government's approach to the Hammonds reflects "prosecutorial misconduct" that's evident in other cases, said Ramona Morrison, daughter of deceased Nevada rancher and "Sagebrush Rebellion" icon Wayne Hage.

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