Dwight, Steven Hammond given full pardon by Trump

President Trump pardons Oregon ranchers who inspired takeover of federal refuge

President Trump pardons Oregon ranchers who inspired takeover of federal refuge

Two cattle ranchers convicted of arson in OR, a case that inspired the 2016 Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation, were granted clemency by President Donald Trump Tuesday.

The two OR ranchers were imprisoned in 2012 for arson, in a fire that encroached on Federal lands, and the incident is commonly viewed as a precursor to the Bundy family's infamous stands against the government. Most notably, members of another anti-government family, the Bundys, cited the Hammonds as their inspiration for facing down what they called an oppressive government when they occupied a national wildlife refuge in OR, setting up a weeks-long standoff that became front-page news in 2016.

Walden added that the Hammonds were "serving a mandatory minimum sentence that was established for terrorists" - referring to the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, which increased the penalties for using explosive or arson against federal property.

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

In a statement Tuesday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders called that decision "unjust". They claimed to be keeping invasive species off of their land but prosecutors claimed they tried covering up evidence of poaching.

The Hammonds' case led to the armed 41-day occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

"Trump signed Executive Grants of Clemency (Full Pardons) for Dwight Lincoln Hammond, Jr., and his son, Steven Hammond", the White House said in a prepared statement.

The move came years after the convictions of Dwight and Steven Hammond, part of a family in the high desert of eastern OR known for its generosity and community contributions.

They have also paid $400,000 to the U.S.to settle a related civil suit.

"Farm Bureau was shocked by the minimum five-year sentence the Hammonds faced", said American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall. The elder Hammond was initially sentenced to three months in prison, while his son was ordered to a year and one day behind bars.

"It's also not clear yet if other ranchers who graze their cattle on public lands might decide to openly defy federal laws, [with] the Hammonds being pardoned", Kirk says.

In 2016, as a result of their sentencing, Ammon Bundy gathered supporters and took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in southeastern Oregon.

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

The U.S. Attorney's Office in OR said Astarita falsely stated he had not fired his weapon during the attempted arrest of protester LaVoy Finicum, who was shot dead by another officer during the incident, "when he knew he had in fact fired his weapon".

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