Trump pardons Oregon ranchers who inspired refuge standoff

Trump pardons Oregon ranchers who inspired refuge standoff

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump granted clemency to Dwight Lincoln Hammond Jr., 76, and his son, Steven Hammond, 49, two OR ranchers convicted of arson for the 2001 Hardie-Hammond Fire.

Our dumpster fire of a president has pardoned two OR arsonists who also threatened to kill federal officials, abused their nephew and illegally ran cattle on a national wildlife refuge.

The Hammonds' case became the inspiration for the 40-day armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in 2016.

The takeover was another flare-up in a decades-old conflict over federal control of millions of acres of public land in the Western United States. Most notably, members of another anti-government family, the Bundys, cited the Hammonds as their inspiration for facing down what they called an oppressive government when they occupied a national wildlife refuge in OR, setting up a weeks-long standoff that became front-page news in 2016.

The government said the ranchers were covering up evidence of hunting violations. Robert "LaVoy" Finicum, a key protester according to The Chicago Tribune, was fatally shot on January 26 by Oregon State Police.

Dwight Hammond Jr. and his son Steven Hammond, 49, were accused of setting two major fires, the first in 2001 and the second in 2006.

Trump has also said on Twitter he could pardon himself in case he would be convicted as a result of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections.

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However, that was overturned by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which ordered that the Hammonds be resentenced "in compliance with the law".

"Justice is overdue for Dwight and Steven Hammond, both of whom are entirely deserving of these Grants of Executive Clemency", Sanders added. Bundy, who along with others, was acquitted of any charges, saidhe believed the pair of ranchers were victims of federal overreach.

The Oregon Farm Bureau said in a statement "while nobody can restore what they've lost to this prosecutorial overreach and bureaucratic vendetta, we are happy that this terrible chapter will be coming to a close soon". In a White House statement, the press secretary said that the Hammonds' five-year prison sentences had been "unjust".

But critics say the president could be ignoring valid claims for clemency as he works outside the typical pardon process, focusing on cases brought to his attention by friends, famous people and conservative media pundits.

The White House statement said that at "the Hammonds" original sentencing, the judge noted that they are respected in the community and that imposing the mandatory minimum, 5-year prison sentence would "shock the conscience" and be "grossly disproportionate to the severity' of their conduct". As a result, the judge imposed significantly lesser sentences.

Trump came to a similar conclusion, with the White House noting that both men have now served years in prison and paid $400,000 to settle a related civil suit.

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