Trump may pardon Oregon ranchers whose prison time sparked Malheur occupation

Dwight Hammond, right, and his son Steven.
Dwight Hammond, right, and his son Steven.

Two eastern Oregon ranchers whose legal battle with the federal government became symbolic of supposed federal overreach in the West might get some help from President Donald Trump.

The White House is "weighing whether to grant a presidential pardon to two ranchers from eastern Oregon, Dwight and Steven Hammond," The Washington Post reported late Tuesday.

The Oregon Cattlemen's Association and a national agriculture and hunting nonprofit have pressed the Hammonds' case in recent weeks, the Blue Mountain Eagle in John Day reported last month.

The father and son were convicted of arson in 2012 for lighting fires on federal land.

U.S. District Judge Michael Hogan sentenced the father, Dwight, to three months in federal prison. Steven received a sentence of one year and a day.

Both sentences were less than the mandatory five-year minimum for an arson conviction. The government appealed in 2015 and won.

The judge in January 2016 ordered the Hammonds to return to prison and complete the remaining time of their five-year minimum sentences. Upset over the ruling, Ammon Bundy of Emmett extended an existing protest in support of the Hammonds in Burns, leading militia members to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and occupying it for about a month.

Both of the Hammonds are housed at Terminal Island Federal Correctional Institution in San Pedro, California. Dwight Hammond is slated to be released Feb. 13, 2020; his son's release is set for June 29, 2019.