Two Oregon ranchers, Dwight and Steven Hammond, were accused of setting fire to federal lands several years ago. They were convicted, served several months behind bars, and released.
Later, however, a federal judge ordered the father-and-son ranchers back to prison because, under federal law, there was a mandatory minimum for arson on federal land that they had not yet served. Their story later became a leading cause for militia members.
The Oregonian reported this morning, however, that Donald Trump has intervened in the Hammonds’ case.
President Donald Trump on Tuesday commuted the sentences of two eastern Oregon ranchers serving time in federal prison for setting fire to public land in a case that inflamed their supporters and gave rise to the armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
The decision will free Dwight Hammond Jr., 76, and son Steven Hammond, 49, convicted in 2012 of arson on Harney County land where they had grazing rights for their cattle.
The article added that, according to prosecutors, the Hammonds’ fires were used “to cover up illegal deer poaching,” and when the fires burned out of control, they placed firefighters “who had to be airlifted out of the area in grave danger.”
According to the former U.S. Attorney in Oregon, the case followed years of alleged “permit violations and unauthorized fires” from the Hammonds, for which “they never accepted responsibility.”
Nevertheless, in a press statement, 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.”
The news comes less than a week after Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) said he’d spoken with the president about pardons for the Oregon ranchers.
What’s more, this follows a series of controversial Trump pardons, including one six weeks ago for right-wing provocateur Dinesh D’Souza.