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Trump Pardons Oregon Ranchers Whose Convictions Triggered Malheur Occupation


On Tuesday, July 10, President Donald Trump pardoned two Oregon ranchers whose convictions of torching public lands triggered an armed occupation at an eastern Oregon wildlife refuge in 2016.  Dwight Hammond, 76, and his son Steven, 49, had a long history of conflict with the U.S. government which culminated in their convictions for setting fires, one in 2001 and another in 2006, on federal lands. They were each sentenced to five-year prison terms, which attracted the attention of other anti-government protesters, including Ammon and Cliven Bundy. In January, 2016, an armed group of sympathizers, including Ammon Bundy, took over the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in eastern Oregon. Nearly a month later, a total of 26 people, including Bundy, were arrested on federal charges of conspiracy. The charges were ultimately dropped against Bundy and nearly all of the other militants.

The New York Times reports that during Tuesday morning's media briefing, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced that Trump had pardoned the Hammonds.

“The Hammonds are multi-generation cattle ranchers in Oregon imprisoned in connection with a fire that leaked onto a small portion of neighboring public grazing land,” said  Sanders. “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.”

Reporters Eileen Sullivan and Julie Turkewitz of the Times write, "The pardons appear to represent the Trump administration’s support of ranchers in the battle over federal lands and also undo an Obama administration appeal to impose longer sentences for the Hammonds."