President Trump continued his spree of politically-charged pardons this morning with the shocking decision to pardon Dwight and Steven Hammond, a father and son rancher duo who were sent to prison in 2012 for illegally slaughtering deer on federal property and then deliberately starting an enormous forest fire to cover up their tracks.
Their punishment by the Obama administration for their crimes was seized upon by corporate astroturf anti-government groups funded by billionaires like Koch Brothers as an example of tyrannical overreach and the Hammonds were turned into martyrs, eventually being used as justification for the Bundy militia’s takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and the subsequent armed standoff that ensued.
The move is the latest in the President’s efforts to establish a precedent of forgiveness for any and all wrongdoing as Special Counsel Mueller’s probe closes in on the President, his former lawyer, and the majority of his senior campaign staff.
It is also yet another obvious wink-and-a-nudge to right-wing extremists, a declaration that violation of federal law by white Christian men will be ignored and excused – a stark difference with the harsh and inhumane way that the “crimes” of undocumented migrants seeking asylum in the United States are being dealt with by the Trump administration and the jack-booted thugs of ICE and the Border Patrol.
Other recent controversial pardons include that of former Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona, who was charged with contempt of court after refusing to obey a judge’s order to halt his illegal and unconstitutional racial profiling policy, and Scooter Libby, the former Chief of Staff to ex-Vice President and fugitive war criminal Dick Cheney who was convicted of obstruction of justice and perjury for leaking the identity of CIA intelligence officer Valerie Plame.
While only time will tell how this all plays out, the obvious desperation and panic leaking from the White House indicates that the walls are closing in on President Trump and his cronies – and the madness is only just beginning.