President Donald Trump issued a pair of pardons for two Oregon ranchers whose extreme prison sentences for arson on federal land triggered an armed standoff between the Bureau of Land Management and brothers Ammon and Ryan Bundy.
According to The Daily Caller, the White House submitted the pardons Tuesday morning, officially ending a government prosecution that has trailed on for more than four years.
Dwight and Steven Hammond were convicted in 2012 of setting fire to public land after a fire on their privately-owned grazing grounds leaked onto land owned by BLM. The U.S. District Court judge who sentenced the pair objected to the government's use of a 1996 anti-terrorism law that required both ranchers to serve minimum five year prison sentences, and instead gave the Hammonds a far shorter jail term.
The Obama Administration decided to press the issue, however, and on appeal in 2014, got the five-year minimum sentence reinstated, and a judge ordered the Hammonds back to prison. To protest both the sentencing and the Bureau of Land Management's overreach, Ammon and Ryan Bundy took control of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
The Bundys were indicted in 2016, but recently a U.S. District Court judge declared a mistrial in their case, citing "gross misconduct by the Federal government."
Recently, an "agriculture advocacy group" called Protect the Harvest began petitioning the Trump administration to overturn the Hammonds' sentences and Tuesday, the White House announced the pair would receive the administration's fourth and fifth pardon.