Harney County, Ore.
President Trump pardoned two cattle ranchers this week who were serving five-year sentences for arson on federal land, a punishment that drew national attention after it motivated the armed takeover of an Oregon wildlife refuge in 2016. Agricultural groups celebrated the pardon, while environmental groups said it sends a dangerous message to antigovernment activists. Dwight Hammond Jr., now 76, and his son Steven, 49, were convicted in 2012 of setting fire to more than 100 acres of federal land to cover up illegal deer poaching, a crime that carries a mandatory five-year sentence. After initially receiving lighter sentences, the Hammonds were ordered to return to prison in 2016 to serve the full five years. That led the Bundy family of Nevada, along with other local militia members, to storm a refuge next to the Hammond ranch, which they proceeded to occupy for 41 days. The White House said the five-year sentencing resulted from an “overzealous appeal” by the Obama administration.
A federal judge rebuked the Trump administration this week after the government failed to meet a court deadline for reunifying dozens of young children separated from their parents at the border. Judge Dana Sabraw had ordered all 102 children under age 5 be returned to their parents by July 10, but just 54 had been reunified by then. “These are firm deadlines,” Sabraw said. “They’re not aspirational goals.” Sabraw has also ordered that all 3,000 migrant children in federal custody be reunified with their families by the end of the month. Chris Meekins, a senior Health and Human Services official, insisted the reunifications could not be rushed, in order to ensure children’s safety. Meekins also cited “logistical impediments”; the parents of 12 children, for instance, have already been removed from the U.S.
Ohio Republican Rep. Jim Jordan adamantly denied this week that he’d turned a blind eye to sexual abuse, after eight former members of the Ohio State University wrestling team accused him of knowing that the team doctor molested athletes. Jordan, who co-founded the House Freedom Caucus, was an assistant wrestling coach at OSU from 1986 to 1994. During that time, former athletes say, Jordan must have known that the team doctor showered with students and inappropriately touched them during examinations, as it was frequently discussed in the locker room. One former wrestler says he told Jordan that the physician held his genitals “longer than normal,” and that Jordan “just snickered.” The former team doctor committed suicide in 2005, and OSU is investigating the allegations. “I never knew about any type of abuse,” Jordan said. “If I did, I would have done something about it.”
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ramped up efforts this week to “denaturalize” Americans who committed fraud to become citizens. The agency announced it would open a new office, hire 300 agents, and devote more than $207 million to pursuing such cases. “What we’re looking at, when you boil it all down, is potentially a few thousand cases,” said L. Francis Cissna, the agency’s director. The effort comes amid another Trump administration push to denaturalize Americans who committed crimes before becoming citizens. In one such case, the Department of Justice is suing to revoke citizenship from Norma Borgono, a 63-year-old secretary from Peru who has lived in Miami for 28 years and became a citizen in 2007. Borgono played a minor role in a $24 million fraud scheme in the 2000s, and cooperated with the FBI in 2012, testifying against her former bosses. “I don’t know what’s going to happen if she goes to Peru,” Borgono’s daughter said. “We have nothing there.”
Anthem rule contested
New York City
The NFL players union filed a grievance this week over the league’s new policy requiring players to “stand and show respect” during the national anthem or risk being fined. The union claims the rule—announced in May without the players’ being consulted—violates the league’s collective bargaining agreement and “infringes on player rights.” But rather than sue the NFL, the union hopes to negotiate a resolution or settle the matter before an arbitrator. The anthem policy, reportedly influenced by pressure from President Trump, permits players to stay in the locker room while the anthem plays, though Trump has tweeted that the compromise “is as disrespectful to our country as kneeling.” Malcolm Jenkins, a member of Super Bowl champion the Philadelphia Eagles, called the rule an attempt to “thwart the players’ constitutional rights to express themselves” and “draw attention to social injustices like racial inequality.”
New interview demands
Rudy Giuliani outlined new demands this week that he said special counsel Robert Mueller would have to comply with in order to secure an interview with President Trump. Giuliani, Trump’s lead attorney, said Mueller would have to prove that Trump’s testimony is necessary to complete the probe into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election and whether the president subsequently obstructed that investigation. Giuliani said Mueller would also need to supply hard evidence that Trump committed a crime. Earlier this year, Trump expressed eagerness to testify under oath if it would help expedite the investigation, but he’s gradually backed away from that offer while his legal team adopts a more combative approach. “This is the most corrupt investigation I have ever seen,” said Giuliani, who explained that discrediting Mueller’s probe is now the president’s best defense. “Nobody is going to consider impeachment if public opinion has concluded this is an unfair investigation.” ■