Two ranchers whose case sparked the armed occupation of a national wildlife refuge in southeast Oregon just had their sentences commuted and pardoned by Trump.
The ranchers were originally convicted in 2012 for intentionally and maliciously setting fires on public lands. According to the Department of Justice, Steven Hammond was accused of lighting a fire to cover an illegal deer hunt on land that was managed by the Bureau of Land Management. Hammond was accused of passing out matches because the family wanted to light “the whole country on fire,” by federal authorities.
Dwight Hammond Jr., and his son Steven were looking at a minimum prison sentence of five years, but the federal judge who heard the case, U.S. District Judge Michael Hogan decided the penalty was too stiff and ended up giving the Hammonds much lighter sentences. The judge sentenced Dwight Hammond Jr., to just three months, and his son, Steven received a year and a day, behind bars. After serving their time, the two men moved back to their ranch in Diamond, Oregon.
In 2015, however, prosecutors won an appeal that would overturn Hogan’s sentencing which required the two men to return to jail and complete the full five year sentence. Outrage over the sentences being overturned led to protesters filling the streets of Burns, Oregon and in January of 2016, protesters began what would turn into a 41-day armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, with complaints that the Hammonds were simply victims of federal overreach.
The protest ended with Ammon Bundy being arrested on January 26th during a traffic stop, and after another key occupier, Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, was fatally shot the same day by Oregon State Police.
Dwight’s wife, and Steven’s mother, Susie Hammond, said she was sound asleep Tuesday morning when she was awakened by a phone call from U.S. Rep. Greg Walden saying, “He said it’s a done deal, the papers were signed.” Susie told The Oregon, “We’ve been waiting a long time. I think it’s wonderful.” She continued, “I’ve just been sitting here, on the phone since. I still can’t believe it. I won’t believe it until I see them.”
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders released a statement on Tuesday, calling the decision to resentence the Hammonds “unjust”. “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,” she said. “Justice is overdue for Dwight and Steven Hammond, both of whom are entirely deserving of these Grants of Executive Clemency.”
Trump has recently used his power to pardon several cases including a woman serving a life sentence for drug offenses, and who’s case had been brought to Trump’s attention by Kim Kardashian West, Alice Johnson. Trump has made several references to the emotional video released when Alice Johnson was freed and ran into the open arms of family members that touched the heart of many Americans. Trump also recently pardoned Dinesh D’Souza, a conservative author convicted of illegal campaign contributions; I. Lewis Libby Jr.; former aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, and former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
According to the Washington Post, aides say that Trump has been especially drawn to cases where he believes the prosecution may have been politically motivated. The Trump administration called the federal prosecutors who challenged the Hammonds’ original sentence “an overzealous appeal”, one resulting in the full-five year sentences being imposed.
As of today, Dwight Hammond has served two years and eight months in prison and also 31 months of supervised release. His son, Steven has served three years and three months in prison as well as two years of supervised release.
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EXCLUSIVE: Police Investigate NY Times Reporter For Breaking Into GOP Staffer’s Home
Police and a Prince William County magistrate have opened an investigation into New York Times reporter Stephanie Saul for breaking and entering in the apartment of a Corey Stewart campaign staffer in Woodbridge, Virginia.
Stewart U.S. Senate campaign staffer Brian Landrum and a house guest have filed a police report after the house guest witnessed Stephanie Saul inside Landrum’s apartment Wednesday July 18 at 2:15 PM. Brian Landrum was at work and he was not in the apartment at the time.
The eyewitness was able to identify New York Times reporter Stephanie Saul as the intruder. Saul, who won the Pulitzer Prize in journalism for reporting on police pension fraud, did not immediately return questions for this report.
The Prince William County magistrate told Brian Landrum that Saul could be charged with misdemeanor unlawful entry, or potentially felony breaking and entering.
The intrusion took place at Bell Stonebridge Apartments in Woodbridge, VA.
“Working in politics, you become accustomed to the rough-and-tumble nature of the sport. But never in a million years could I have anticipated the New York Times sending a reporter to break into my apartment looking for a story. We’re working with police investigators, and look forward to justice being served,” Brian Landrum said in a statement.
The eyewitness was listening to music when she heard rustling, turned around, and saw a female in Landrum’s kitchen. The woman was turning to leave. The kitchen is 5 to 10 feet from the apartment’s threshold. The apartment is a secured facility with key fob doors. Non-residents are not allowed in the apartment building without consent. Access to the apartment building requires a key fob.
Brian Landrum said that he does not know Stephanie Saul. The apartment building’s office reported that Ms. Saul asked about Landrum at the front desk, saying she was trying to find Landrum and that he did not answer his door when she knocked. The office said that they did not allow Stephanie Saul into the building, and they do not know how she entered the building at this time.
The intruder left a note on Landrum’s kitchen counter.
The intruder said, “hello?”
The houseguest replied, “hello?”
The intruder said, “Is Brian here? I need to ask some questions.”
The houseguest replied, “No, he’s not here. He’s at work.”
The intruder said, “I’m looking for Landrum.” She said she wanted to talk to Brian Landrum and asked when he would be home.
The houseguest replied, “Eight p.m.”
The intruder said, “Can you give him this note?”
The houseguest replied, “yes.”
The intruder turned and left the apartment.
The houseguest did not understand what was going on. She recalls being “pretty shaken up,” and did not know how to respond.
Here is the note left by Stephanie Saul, obtained by Big League Politics:
The story of Saul’s entry into Landrum’s apartment is already circulating in Virginia political circles like wildfire.
“I heard she busted into Landrum’s apartment,” said Graham Moomaw, political reporter for the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Virginia U.S. Senate Republican nominee Corey Stewart compared the break-in to Watergate.
“Carlos Slim and the New York Times will stop at nothing to fight against my strong platform of supporting the rule of law, building the wall, and putting Americans ahead of big business intent on flooding our borders with low-skilled labor from the south, but I never thought they’d break into someone’s apartment,” Corey Stewart said in a statement.
“This is like Watergate, but this time it’s the press that’s breaking into private property,” Stewart said.
“I knew the New York Times didn’t care much for the rule of law, but this violent behavior is blatant intimidation intended to silence conservatives,” Stewart said.
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