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Trump Pardons 2 Ranchers in Case That Inspired Wildlife Refuge Occupation

10 July 2018

As President Trump headed to Brussels for a tense North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit, his administration announced that it would pardon two ranchers who were convicted of setting fires on federal lands, in the latest sign that the president's version of "law and order" includes an out clause for right-wing folk heroes.

76, and his son Steven Hammond, 49, were convicted in 2012 under an anti-terrorism statute and received sentences of 3 months and one year, respectively, according to the Washington Post.

In her statement, Sanders characterized the arson as "a fire that leaked onto a small portion of neighboring public grazing land". The two were initially sentenced to less than the legal minimum five-year prison sentence for their crimes, but a federal judge in 2016 ordered the pair returned to serve the full five years, after the father had spent three years in prison and the son four.

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

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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.

The second imprisonment caused a local backlash. "The Hammonds are child abusers and anti-government zealots who endangered lives when they committed arson to cover up illegally slaughtering a herd of deer". The White House in a statement on Tuesday called the order to return the two to prison "unjust".

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.

"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", Sanders said.

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The statement added: "Justice is overdue for Dwight and Steven Hammond, both of whom are entirely deserving of these Grants of Executive Clemency". As a result, the judge imposed significantly lesser sentences. They have also paid $400,000 to the United States to settle a related civil suit.

The Hammonds had previously been accused of making death threats against federal officials and were arrested in 1994 after trying to stop federal workers from fencing off a canal at Malheur.

Bundy and his supporters were eventually arrested, majority during a confrontation with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and state police on a snow-covered roadside where a spokesman for the group, Robert "LaVoy" Finicum, was shot dead.

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Trump Pardons 2 Ranchers in Case That Inspired Wildlife Refuge Occupation