Trump pardons OR ranchers at center of 40-day standoff

Postado Julho 10, 2018

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

Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who did not attend the reserve occupation but advised his sons there from afar, said the pardons vindicated his family's cause.

President Trump on Tuesday granted pardons to father-and-son cattle ranchers in southeastern OR who were sentenced to serve prison time on two separate occasions for the same charges of arson on public lands.

"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", Trump continued.

The White House said Dwight Hammond, 76, has served about three years in prison.

The Hammonds were convicted of crimes that require a mandatory minimum jail sentence of five years in prison under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996.

They have also paid $400,000 to the settle a related civil suit. The elder Hammond said he was trying to fend off invasive species. The elder Hammond was initially sentenced to three months in prison, while his son was ordered to a year and one day behind bars.

"I am not going to apply the mandatory minimum ... because, to me, to do so under the 8th Amendment would result in a sentence which is grossly disproportionate to the severity of the offenses here", explained trial Judge Michael Hogan.

In a statement Tuesday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders called that decision to resentence the Hammonds "unjust".

Aides say that Trump has been especially drawn to cases in which he believes the prosecution may have been politically motivated - a situation that may remind him of his own position at the center of the ongoing special counsel investigation into Russian election meddling.

Their case prompted a 40-day armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in 2016 by protesters objecting to federal land ownership. He also noted the jury acquitted them on most charges.

"The Hammonds are multi-generation cattle ranchers in OR imprisoned in connection with a fire that leaked onto a small portion of neighboring public grazing land".

The Hammonds distanced themselves from the actions of the Malheur 7.

"The seeds of the current situation were sown in 2001 and 2006". Prosecutors said in 2016 they set fires to cover up evidence of poaching.

The father and son were convicted in 2012 of intentionally and maliciously setting fires on public lands.