President Donald Trump has just pardoned two Oregon ranchers who were forced back into prison in 2016 under the Obama administration to serve out the rest of the mandatory minimum sentence required under an anti-terrorism law.
From Daily Caller:
“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,” the White House said in a statement. “The evidence at trial regarding the Hammonds’ responsibility for the fire was conflicting, and the jury acquitted them on most of the charges.
Dwight and Steven Hammond were convicted of committing arson on federal land in 2012 under an anti-terrorism law from 1996. The U.S. District Court judge who sentenced the ranchers believed the mandatory minimum sentence was too harsh, thus both men served short stints in prison.
The Hammonds served the time imposed by the judge, but federal prosecutors appealed and got the sentence overturned because of the mandatory minimum question and they put the ranchers back in prison in 2016.
The problem, in addition to conflicting questions about the facts and the charges according to the trial judge, was charging them under an anti-terrorism statute which didn’t seem to fit the case.
It was that sentence that sparked the Bundy takeover at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Oregon and resulted in an armed standoff between the Bundys and law enforcement.
Protect the Harvest (PTH), agriculture advocacy group, has been lobbying the Trump administration to commute the Hammonds’ sentences, arguing forcing them back into prison was unjust.
“I’ve had great attorneys tell me this is the most malicious prosecution they’ve ever seen,” PTH national strategic planner Dave Duquette told The Daily Caller News Foundation in June.
“The travesty is what they were tried under. Not whether they started a fire. They admitted to starting the fires,” Duquette said.
Some early reaction: