Published: Tue, July 10, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

Trump pardon of Oregon ranchers sparks concern, jubilation

Trump pardon of Oregon ranchers sparks concern, jubilation

President Trump signed full pardons on Tuesday for OR cattle ranchers Dwight Hammond Jr. and son Steven Hammond, whose long-running dispute with the federal government ended with prison sentences for arson - and later inspired the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation.

"It's also not clear yet if other ranchers who graze their cattle on public lands might decide to openly defy federal laws, [with] the Hammonds being pardoned", Kirk says. One hundred acres of public land were burned, according to The Washington Post.

Dwight Hammond, 73, and Steven Hammond, 46, said they lit the fires in 2001 and 2006 to reduce the growth of invasive plants and protect their property from wildfires.

President Trump has granted full pardons to two OR ranchers who were jailed after a controlled burn migrated onto public land.

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. Another key occupier, Robert "LaVoy" Finicum, was fatally shot that day by Oregon State Police.

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. Steven Hammond, 49, has served roughly four.

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

Sanders recounted the series of events that left the 76-year-old and 46-year-old Hammond father and son sentenced to five years each in prison after an "overzealous appeal" under the Obama administration.

The two men, Dwight Hammond and his son, Steven, were convicted in 2012 for setting fire to federal lands where they held grazing rights for their cattle.

Dwight and his son Steven Hammond were convicted of arson and faced a mandatory minimum sentence of five years, mandated by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996.

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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