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A.M. UPDATE: Trump pardons Dwight and Steven Hammond

A.M. UPDATE: Trump pardons Dwight and Steven Hammond

President Trump pardoned two OR ranchers imprisoned for arson on federal lands.

Rugged individualists to some, unsafe arsonists to others, a father and son convicted of intentionally setting fires on public land in OR have received pardons from President Donald Trump.

President Donald Trump's pardon of two OR ranchers convicted of arson for starting grass fires is thought by some to signify a changed federal approach to industries reliant on public lands.

Lyle Hammond, another of Dwight Hammond's sons, said his father and brother have been released from a federal prison south of Los Angeles but he didn't know their whereabouts.

The armed standoff at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in southeast OR followed a judge's ruling that sent Dwight Hammond and his son, Steven, back to prison to serve more time after their initial release.

WND columnist Ilana Mercer commented in 2016 on "the sorry state of affairs", writing that "to look at rancher Dwight Hammond, 73, and his son, Steven, 46, is to see the salt of the earth, the best of America".

Prosecutors argued the fire also was to cover up illegal deer poaching and got out of control, placing firefighters who had to be airlifted out of the area in grave danger.

Others said they committed serious crimes and anxious that the pardons might prompt other actions involving public lands.

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Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), who represents the area that includes the Hammonds' ranch, cheered Trump's pardon as a win against federal overreach.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that decision and the ranchers were required to serve the full five years behind bars.

This conviction led to a public standoff with federal officials, a 41-day takeover of the Masher National Wildlife Refuge, long-lasting protests and the tragic death of LaVoy Finicum, who was a spokesman for the Citizens of Constitutional Freedom, the group that seized and occupied the government building in 2016 as the Hammonds headed to prison to serve their sentence. In both those years, the US government said the Hammonds set fires that spread onto land managed by the [Bureau of Land Management].

He led a militia that broke into the headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. It turned deadly when police shot one of the occupiers.

Saying that he and other attorneys involved in the case will try to expedite the Hammonds' return to society, Matasar stated, "I am very happy for the entire Hammond family, who I have known and respected for 25 years".

The jury also convicted Steven Hammond for a 2006 blaze that prosecutors said began when he started several back fires, violating a burn ban, to save his winter feed after lightning started numerous fires nearby.

Trump in late May pardoned Dinesh D'Souza, a conservative pundit convicted of campaign finance crimes.

At the time of the sentencing, even the judge had noted the Hammonds were respected in their community and that the five-year sentence would "shock the conscience" and be "grossly disproportionate to the severity" of their conduct.