Trump Pardons Oregon Ranchers Who Inspired Bundy Militia Occupation of Wildlife Refuge

11 Juillet, 2018, 02:56 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Trump pardons Oregon ranchers at center of 40-day standoff

Republican strategist John Weaver on Tuesday warned that President Donald Trump is appeasing "ultra right militia" groups by pardoning two ranchers who sparked the armed takeover of an OR wildlife refuge.

The armed standoff at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in remote southeast OR followed a judge's ruling sending Dwight Hammond and his son Steven back to prison to serve longer terms after their initial release from shorter sentences. They had set fires on their ranch that spread to federal land.

But President Obama's Department of Justice appealed, and in 2015, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in the administration's favor.

"Justice is overdue for Dwight and Steven Hammond, both of whom are entirely deserving of these grants of executive clemency". "The Hammonds are unsafe people with a long history of arson, illegal grazing, threatening violence against federal officials, and child abuse".

The pardons don't carry huge practical import; the Hammonds had already served most of their sentences.

The pardons will hopefully make it clear that federal managers are not free to put ranchers out of business and take their land, said Dave Duquette, national strategic planner for Protect the Harvest, an agricultural and hunting nonprofit. That sentiment was echoed in Trump's pardon announcement, which called the appeal "overzealous".

In her statement, Sanders characterized the arson as "a fire that leaked onto a small portion of neighboring public grazing land".

Alan Schroeder, a lawyer for the Hammond family, said the two men could get out of prison before the day was over.

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But after prosecutors won an appeal, the Hammonds were resentenced to serve the mandatory minimum, the AP said, which sparked a protest from Ammon Bundy and many others - as well as an occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near the Hammond ranch 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.

"The evidence at trial regarding the Hammonds' responsibility for the fire was conflicting, and the jury acquitted them on most of the charges", the statement said.

Some conservation groups were dismayed at the cattle ranchers' pardon.

"We think this sends a very risky message that will put America's park rangers, law enforcement officers and public land managers at risk", he said. "President Trump, at the urging of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, has once again sided with lawless extremists who believe that public land does not belong to all Americans".

"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 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.

News media outlets in the state - including the Oregonian - have published editorials advocating for a presidential pardon, seeking clemency for the two men.

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