Anti-government zealots get rewarded by Trump.
Once again using his presidential powers to reward right-wing radicals, Trump on Tuesday announced pardons for Dwight and Steven Hammond, a father and son who were convicted in 2012 of arson on federal land.
The convictions of the two ranchers inspired right-wing, anti-government militia members Ammon Bundy, his family, and fellow radicals to launch a 41-day armed standoff against the federal government by occupying the headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.
Now, Trump says the convicted arsonists deserve mercy.
“Justice is overdue for Dwight and Steven Hammond, both of whom are entirely deserving of these Grants of Executive Clemency,” the pardon statement read.
The White House specifically criticized the Obama administration for its handling of the case, claiming the Department of Justice filed an “overzealous appeal” that led to the two men’s five-year prison sentence.
The statement from the White House press secretary completely whitewashed the Hammonds’ crimes, describing them as “multi-generation cattle ranchers in Oregon imprisoned in connection with a fire that leaked onto a small portion of neighboring public grazing land” and calling their sentences “unjust.”
The White House further described the Hammonds as “devoted family men, respected contributors to their local community.”
As the Department of Justice stated in January 2016, “The jury convicted both of the Hammonds of using fire to destroy federal property for a 2001 arson known as the Hardie-Hammond fire.”
At the trial, witnesses testified that fires were set shortly after Steven Hammond and his hunting party illegally slaughtered deer on federal property. “Jurors were told that Steven Hammond handed out ‘Strike Anywhere’ matches with instructions that they be lit and dropped on the ground because they were going to ‘light up the whole country on fire.'”
That fire consumed 139 acres of public land and destroyed all evidence of the illegal deer killings.
The jury also convicted Steven Hammond of using fire to destroy federal property in 2006.
To date, Dwight Hammond has served approximately three years in prison, and his son Steven has served four years.
Anti-government sympathizers have turned the Hammonds into martyrs, which led to Bundy’s armed occupation in 2016.
Two years earlier, Bundy’s father, Cliven, led a lawless, insurrectionist circus, which was loudly cheered by Fox News. Bundy was a Nevada rancher who for two decades had refused to pay federal grazing fees on public land.
The Hammonds now join the list of other disgraceful Trump pardons, including his fellow birther, the criminally racist former sheriff Joe Arpaio; Scooter Libby, who was convicted on charges of perjury, obstruction of justice, and making false statements to federal investigators related to the Bush administration’s outing of a CIA agent; and admitted felon and far-right radical Dinesh D’Souza.
These are the types of people Trump wants to pardon.
Published with permission of The American Independent.