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11 July 2018, 11:15 | Darnell Patrick
As President Trump headed to Brussels for a tense North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit, his administration announced that it would pardon two ranchers who were convicted of setting fires on federal lands, in the latest sign that the president's version of "law and order" includes an out clause for right-wing folk heroes. Steven Hammond is 49 and has served approximately four years in prison. "The evidence at trial regarding the Hammonds' responsibility for the fire was conflicting, and the jury acquitted them on most of the charges".
The second imprisonment caused a local backlash. They engaged in an armed standoff with federal authorities, although the Hammonds turned themselves over to authorities to serve the additional time and did not heed the Bundys' call to resist.
The pardons come as some federal employees in the rural West are wary of what they say is a high likelihood that more standoffs could develop, NPR's Kirk Siegler reports, citing soil scientists, cattle range managers, and the people who staff recreation sites.
This is a very distinct and selective version of the "law and order" he campaigned on, but one that holds enormous appeal to the only people President Trump really cares about: his base.
Trump in late May pardoned Dinesh D'Souza, a conservative pundit convicted of campaign finance crimes.
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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".
Some conservation groups were dismayed at the cattle ranchers' pardon.
"Pardoning the Hammonds sends a unsafe message to America's park rangers, wildland firefighters, law enforcement officers, and public lands managers".
Trump has also saidon 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.
Trump has been especially pleased with news coverage of his actions, which included commuting the sentence of Alice Johnson, a woman serving a life sentence for drug offenses whose case had been championed by reality television star Kim Kardashian West. The Hammonds could have faced less than a year in prison under a plea offer they declined, she said.
"The previous administration, however, filed an overzealous appeal that resulted in the Hammonds being sentenced to five years in prison".
In her statement, Sanders characterized the arson as "a fire that leaked onto a small portion of neighboring public grazing land".
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