Trump Pardons Oregon Ranchers Behind Armed Takeover Of Federal Land
President Trump on Tuesday pardoned Dwight Hammond, 76, and his son Steven Hammond, 49, two Oregon ranchers whose arson conviction became a focus for opponents of federal government land ownership.
The Hammonds were convicted in 2012 on two counts of committing arson on federal land. Their imprisonment inspired a Bundy-led militia to undertake an armed occupation of an Oregon wildlife refuge to protest the federal government’s restrictions on federal land use.
One of the occupiers, Robert LaVoy, died, and a handful pleaded guilty to charges related to the occupation. But brothers Ammon and Ryan Bundy, the accused leaders of the occupation, were not convicted.
In a statement Tuesday announcing the pardon, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders emphasized uncertainties in the case and the prison terms and fines the Hammonds had already paid.
“The evidence at trial regarding the Hammonds’ responsibility for the fire was conflicting, and the jury acquitted them on most of the charges,” 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. Justice is overdue for Dwight and Steven Hammond, both of whom are entirely deserving of these Grants of Executive Clemency.”
Both men are currently in prison on five-year sentences, thanks in part to a 1996 antiterrorism law that imposed a mandatory minimum sentence on certain crimes on federal land. The length of their prison terms, in part, fueled outrage at their convictions.
Dwight Hammond, 76, has served roughly three years of his five-year sentence while his son, 49-year-old Steven Hammond, has served four years in prison.
Read Trump’s full pardon below.
— Saagar Enjeti (@esaagar) July 10, 2018
The Hammonds are the eighth and ninth individuals granted clemency by Trump. Others include conservative activist Dinesh D’Souza and former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio.