Trump pardons ranchers in case that inspired 2016 occupation

National
rancher case_1531240733753.jpeg.jpg

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has pardoned two ranchers whose case sparked the armed occupation of a national wildlife refuge in Oregon.

Dwight and Steven Hammond were convicted in 2012 of intentionally and maliciously setting fires on public lands. The arson crime carried a minimum prison sentence of five years, but a sympathetic federal judge, on his last day before retirement, decided the penalty was too stiff and gave the father and son much lighter prison terms.

Prosecutors won an appeal and the Hammonds were resentenced in October 2015 to serve the mandatory minimum.

The decision sparked a protest from Ammon Bundy and dozens of others, who occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near the Hammond ranch in southeastern Oregon from Jan. 2 to Feb. 11, 2016, complaining the Hammonds were victims of federal overreach.

The armed occupiers changed the refuge’s name to the Harney County Resource Center, reflecting their belief that the federal government has only a very limited right to own property within a state’s borders.

Bundy was arrested during a Jan. 26 traffic stop, effectively ending the protest. Another key occupier, Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, was fatally shot that day by Oregon State Police.

In a statement Tuesday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders called that decision to resentence the Hammonds “unjust.”

“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,” she said. “Justice is overdue for Dwight and Steven Hammond, both of whom are entirely deserving of these Grants of Executive Clemency.”

The pardons are the latest in a growing list of clemency actions by Trump, who has been using his pardon power with increasingly frequency in recent months.

Trump has been especially pleased with news coverage of his actions, which included commuting the sentence of Alice Johnson, a woman serving a life sentence for drug offenses whose case had been championed by reality television star Kim Kardashian West.

He has repeatedly referenced emotional video of Johnson being freed from prison and running into her family members’ arms, and has said he’s considering thousands more cases — both famous and not.

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.

Aides say that Trump has been especially drawn to cases in which he believes the prosecution may have been politically motivated — a situation that may remind him of his own position at the center of the ongoing special counsel investigation into Russian election meddling.

Many have also seen the president as sending a signal with his pardons to former aides and associates caught up in the probe, or lashing out at enemies like former FBI Director James Comey, who oversaw the prosecution of lifestyle guru Martha Stewart, whom Trump has said he is thinking of pardoning.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Overcast

Abbeville

59°F Overcast Feels like 59°
Wind
12 mph ESE
Humidity
78%
Sunrise
Sunset

Tonight

Cloudy skies with a few showers after midnight. Low 58F. Winds SSE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 30%.
58°F Cloudy skies with a few showers after midnight. Low 58F. Winds SSE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 30%.
Wind
7 mph SE
Precip
20%
Sunset
Moon Phase
New
Overcast

Crowley

59°F Overcast Feels like 59°
Wind
10 mph SE
Humidity
82%
Sunrise
Sunset

Tonight

Cloudy skies early, then off and on rain showers overnight. Low 58F. Winds SSE at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 40%.
58°F Cloudy skies early, then off and on rain showers overnight. Low 58F. Winds SSE at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 40%.
Wind
7 mph SE
Precip
20%
Sunset
Moon Phase
New
Overcast

Opelousas

59°F Overcast Feels like 59°
Wind
6 mph SSE
Humidity
78%
Sunrise
Sunset

Tonight

Cloudy skies early, then off and on rain showers overnight. Low 56F. Winds SSE at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 40%.
58°F Cloudy skies early, then off and on rain showers overnight. Low 56F. Winds SSE at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 40%.
Wind
7 mph SE
Precip
20%
Sunset
Moon Phase
New
Overcast

Breaux Bridge

60°F Overcast Feels like 60°
Wind
8 mph SE
Humidity
75%
Sunrise
Sunset

Tonight

Mostly cloudy. Low 56F. Winds SSE at 5 to 10 mph.
58°F Mostly cloudy. Low 56F. Winds SSE at 5 to 10 mph.
Wind
7 mph SE
Precip
20%
Sunset
Moon Phase
New
Overcast

New Iberia

58°F Overcast Feels like 58°
Wind
9 mph SE
Humidity
90%
Sunrise
Sunset

Tonight

Partly cloudy skies early giving way to a few showers after midnight. Low 44F. Winds light and variable. Chance of rain 30%.
56°F Partly cloudy skies early giving way to a few showers after midnight. Low 44F. Winds light and variable. Chance of rain 30%.
Wind
4 mph SE
Precip
20%
Sunset
Moon Phase
New

Trending Stories

Sidebar