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Trump pardon of OR ranchers sparks concern, jubilation

Trump pardon of OR ranchers sparks concern, jubilation”

President Donald Trump granted full pardons to two cattle ranchers convicted of arson in a case that case sparked the armed occupation of a national wildlife refuge in Oregon.

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump granted clemency to Dwight Lincoln Hammond Jr. and his son, Steven Hammond, two OR ranchers convicted of arson.

Jennifer Rokala, executive director of the environmental group Center for Western Priorities, argued in a statement that by pardoning the Hammonds, Trump has "sided with lawless extremists who believe that public land does not belong to all Americans". The Hammonds had set fires in 2001 and 2006-one to fight invasive species, another to protect.

In its statement announcing the pardon, the White House said, "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".

Dwight Hammond has served approximately three years in prison, and his son Steven has served four years, according to the White House. A judge, however, initially gave Dwight Hammond three months and his son Steven Hammond a year and a day behind bars.

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. "As ranchers across eastern OR frequently tell me, the Hammonds didn't deserve a five year sentence for using fire as a management tool, something the federal government does all the time".

In a statement, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that evidence against the Hammonds was "conflicting" and noted the trial judge's opposition to imposing the required mandatory minimum sentence. The pair had also coughed up $400,000 to settle a civil suit with the feds.

"Our family is grateful to the president and all who worked to make this possible", the Hammond family said in a statement.

While numerous Hammonds' supporters didn't approve of the takeover, they saw the Obama administration's pursuit of longer prison sentences as vindictive.

The OFB, which has advocated on the Hammonds' behalf, said on Tuesday that their punishment was a case of "prosecutorial overreach and bureaucratic vendetta".

A full pardon grants broader absolution, which undercuts the dangerousness of setting fires and indicates that public land can be burned without outcome, Weiss said.

A USA flag covers a sign at the entrance of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Oregon, January 3, 2016.

During the standoff at the refuge, FBI Agent W. Joseph Astarita allegedly shot rancher Robert "LaVoy" Finicum when officers arrested leaders of the occupation.



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