When a group of armed militiamen occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon in 2016, they did so in response to the prosecution of a pair of local ranchers who intentionally burned federal land. The militiamen claimed the prosecution and conviction of the ranchers was illegitimate because the federal government does not legitimately own the land (it does) or any other public lands in the country for that matter.
Those ranchers, Dwight and Steven Hammond, have now been pardoned by Trump.
In a statement Tuesday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders called that 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.”
To be entirely clear and specific, here's what the Hammonds were convicted for.
From the Oregon Attorney General's office:
The jury convicted both of the Hammonds of using fire to destroy federal property for a 2001 arson known as the Hardie-Hammond Fire, located in the Steens Mountain Cooperative Management and Protection Area. Witnesses at trial, including a relative of the Hammonds, testified the arson occurred shortly after Steven Hammond and his hunting party illegally slaughtered several deer on BLM property. Jurors were told that Steven Hammond handed out “Strike Anywhere” matches with instructions that they be lit and dropped on the ground because they were going to “light up the whole country on fire.” One witness testified that he barely escaped the eight to ten foot high flames caused by the arson. The fire consumed 139 acres of public land and destroyed all evidence of the game violations. After committing the arson, Steven Hammond called the BLM office in Burns, Oregon and claimed the fire was started on Hammond property to burn off invasive species and had inadvertently burned onto public lands. Dwight and Steven Hammond told one of their relatives to keep his mouth shut and that nobody needed to know about the fire.
The jury also convicted Steven Hammond of using fire to destroy federal property regarding a 2006 arson known as the Krumbo Butte Fire located in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and Steen Mountain Cooperative Management and Protection Area. An August lightning storm started numerous fires and a burn ban was in effect while BLM firefighters fought those fires. Despite the ban, without permission or notification to BLM, Steven Hammond started several “back fires” in an attempt save the ranch’s winter feed. The fires burned onto public land and were seen by BLM firefighters camped nearby. The firefighters took steps to ensure their safety and reported the arsons.
You may recall that the Hammonds dissociated themselves from the militiamen who occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, but that definitely will not stop the militia movement from claiming this as some kind of symbolic victory. And I suppose it is, except anyone who is convicted of similar actions while Trump is in office probably won't even be considered for a pardon.
I believe Trump's pardons can be directly attributed to his clear belief that everyone, not just himself, operates exclusively in bad faith.
From his pardons of Dinesh D'ouchebag to the Hammonds, Trump is pardoning these people because they were convicted while President Obama was in office even if Obama had nothing to do with it. Trump believes all actions are maliciously and politically motivated because all of his own actions are.
This could explain almost all of Trump's behavior from his pardons, to his trade war, to his rhetorical war on NATO and the European Union. He believes the whole world is corrupt because he is corrupt. Trump believes he's the only person capable of navigating the world because only he understands that everyone and everything is for sale just like him.