In a press release, Donald Trump announced full pardons for Oregon ranchers Dwight and Steven Hammond. The pair have long been the focus of right-wing extremists who rallied to their side, including Ammon and Ryan Bundy who organized their supporters to take over the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in January 2016. The standoff lasted roughly five weeks before the last of the supporters were convinced to lay down their weapons and surrender to the FBI.
Dwight and Steven Hammond have a history of arson in Oregon, setting fires to nearby properties to allegedly help their own ranch, despite being repeatedly warned against such action by Bureau of Land Management firefighters and law enforcement. They are known to have started at least five major fires in Oregon: the Hardie-Hammond fire in 2001 (which was set to cover an illegal deer slaughter and endangered three hunters in the area); the Fir Creek fire in 2005; the Krumbo Butte fire in 2006; the Lower Bridge Creek fire in 2006, and the Grandad fire of 2006. The Hammond’s claimed they were “controlled fires,” but they most certainly were not and in the case of the 2006 Krumbo Butte fire, Steve Hammond ordered his nephew, Dusty, to start a fire that Dusty barely escaped. Making matters even worse, four Bureau of Land Management firefighters were trapped in the raging wildfire, also barely escaping with their lives. Their testimony and eventual pleas prove they knew everything they were doing was dangerous and illegal. From Oregon Public Broadcasting in 2012:
“Light the whole countryside on fire,” Dusty said his uncle told him. “I started lighting matches.”
Afterwards, he said, over lunch his grandfather and uncle instructed him to “keep my mouth shut; nobody needed to know anything about the fire.”