Trump Pardons Arsonists That Inspired 2016 Bundy Standoff

Cheryl Sanders
July 11, 2018

U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday pardoned two imprisoned OR ranchers whose sentencing on arson convictions sparked the 2016 occupation of a wildlife refuge, part of a long-simmering dispute over federal land policies in the U.S. West.

In 2012, the Hammonds were prosecuted for setting fires in 2001 and 2006 that destroyed portions of federal land to which they had leased grazing rights, and endangered people's lives.

"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 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 White House said in a statement.

The Oregon Farm Bureau also released a statement on the pardons, thanking everyone who "worked to end the injustice done to Steven and Dwight Hammond".


As of 2018, Dwight Hammond had served about three years in prison and Steven Hammond had served four, according to the White House.

The Hammonds have been locked up since January 4, 2016, after they were re-sentenced following their 2012 conviction for arson on public lands.

Walden added that the Hammonds were "serving a mandatory minimum sentence that was established for terrorists" - referring to the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, which increased the penalties for using explosive or arson against federal property.

U.S. District Judge Michael R. Hogan said such a lengthy sentence "would not meet any idea I have of justice, proportionality ... it would be a sentence which would shock the conscience to me".

Originally, federal prosecutors charged the Hammonds in 2010 with burning more than 45,000 acres of federal land near their ranch in Diamond, Ore., in blazes dating back to the 1980s.


"They now think they have a friend in the White House who does not value public lands", said Aaron Weiss, media director for the Center for Western Priorities, a nonprofit that advocates protecting public land. One of the occupiers, Robert "LaVoy" Finicum, was shot dead by Oregon State Police during the takeover.

Trump has also said on Twitter he could pardon himself in case he would be convicted as a result of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 USA presidential elections. A judge, however, initially gave Dwight Hammond three months and his son Steven Hammond a year and a day behind bars.

The OFB, which has advocated on the Hammonds' behalf, said on Tuesday that their punishment was a case of "prosecutorial overreach and bureaucratic vendetta".

Trump came to a similar conclusion, with the White House noting that both men have now served years in prison and paid $400,000 to settle a related civil suit.

Looking for news you can trust?


Be proactive - Use the "Flag as Inappropriate" link at the upper right corner of each comment to let us know of abusive posts.

Other reports by iNewsToday

FOLLOW OUR NEWSPAPER