Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Oregon ranchers pardoned by Trump arrive in Burns via private jet

Harney County ranchers Dwight Hammond Jr. and Steven Hammond, fresh from federal prison following a pardon by President Donald Trump, stepped off a private jet at Burns Municipal Airport on Wednesday morning to a crush of well-wishers and their family. "There's no way we can thank everybody enough," Dwight Hammond said with his arm around his wife, Susie. A short time later, the crowd that had gathered started clapping and a chorus of "welcome home" and "we love you" broke out. People started gathering at the airport several hours earlier with American flags, signs and stickers handed out and slapped on cars reading: "Trump freed the Hammonds! He is our president!"... The nonprofit group Protect the Harvest, founded by oil executive Forrest Lucas to support American farmers, ranchers, outdoor enthusiasts and animal owners, worked behind the scenes with U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Oregon, to get the ear of the White House in considering the clemency petitions filed by each Hammond. "We brought it to the attention of the vice president,'' said David Duquette, a Hermiston resident who serves as national strategic planner for the advocacy group. "Mike Pence and Forrest Lucas are good friends.'' Lucas, the multimillionaire oil magnate and backer of the Indianapolis Colts, and Pence, an Indiana native, have known each other for a long time. Lucas said he spoke to Pence after he was put into contact with Dwight Hammond Jr. Duquette was so confident something was afoot that he got a hotel room Tuesday in Long Beach, California, near the Terminal Island federal prison where the Hammonds have been held. They walked out of the prison around 2 p.m. Tuesday, about 6 1/2 hours after Trump pardoned them. Several convoys of supporters from central Oregon and elsewhere converged in Burns to help greet the Hammonds...J. Morgan Philpot, a Utah lawyer who represented Ammon Bundy at trials in Portland and Nevada, is now representing the Hammond family as well. He said the family's central focus in trying to regain their grazing permit, and are considering what legal steps to take that might hasten that process...MORE

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