President Donald Trump pardoned Joe Arpaio on Friday, August 25, 2017, sparing the controversial former Arizona sheriff a jail sentence after he was convicted of criminal contempt related to his hard-line tactics going after undocumented immigrants.
The move drew outcry from civil rights groups, which accuse Arpaio of violating the Constitution in his crackdown on illegal immigration. During last year’s presidential campaign, Arpaio was a vocal proponent of Trump’s candidacy, and used his national notoriety to advocate for Trump’s similarly aggressive stance on border security and deportations.
In a brief statement released late Friday evening, the White House praised Arpaio’s career. “Throughout his time as sheriff, Arpaio continued his life’s work of protecting the public from the scourges of crime and illegal immigration,” the statement read. “Sheriff Joe Arpaio is now 85 years old, and after more than 50 years of admirable service to our nation, he is [a] worthy candidate for a Presidential pardon.”
I’ll Decide What Justice Is!
The pardon is the first of Trump’s presidency, though he did not follow his predecessor’s’ practice of consulting with lawyers at the Justice Department before announcing his decision. “This is the President’s pardon,” a source with knowledge of the decision said.
Under the Constitution, a president is permitted wide leeway in issuing pardons. There are no requirements for consultation within the administration before a decision is announced.
“The President exercised his lawful authority and we respect his decision,” said Ian Prior, a Justice Department spokesman. Trump hinted at his decision earlier this week during a raucous campaign rally in Phoenix. There is no question that he can do it, but for someone that was found guilty of criminal contempt for disregarding a court order in a racial profiling case, he hasn’t even been sentenced — and without discussing it with DOJ?
Everyone’s A Little Bit Racist
That’s a song from Avenue Q, but that seems to be the logic behind Trump’s latest missives. It seems most of the country is confusing the bad neo-Nazis with the good Neo-Nazis (but they all look alike)!
Civil rights groups and others were outraged by Arpaio’s pardon, and slammed the decision on Friday, August 28, 2017. “Once again, the president has acted in support of illegal, failed immigration enforcement practices that target people of color and have been struck down by the courts,” the American Civil Liberties Union wrote in a statement. “His pardon of Arpaio is a presidential endorsement of racism.”
Joe Arpaio illegally targeted and terrorized Latino families. Our community voted him out of power. Donald Trump can’t change that,” wrote Greg Stanton, the Democratic mayor of Phoenix, who sits in Maricopa County.
Arizona Sen. John McCain said in a statement on the pardon, “no one is above the law (tell Trump that) and the individuals entrusted with the privilege of being sworn law officers should always seek to be beyond reproach in their commitment to fairly enforcing the laws they swore to uphold.”
Hold ME In Contempt? HA! I’m Holding YOU In Contempt
“Mr. Arpaio was found guilty of criminal contempt for continuing to illegally profile Latinos living in Arizona based on their perceived immigration status in violation of a judge’s orders,” McCain said. “The President has the authority to make this pardon, but doing so at this time undermines his claim for the respect of rule of law as Mr. Arpaio has shown no remorse for his actions.”
Arizona’s other Republican senator, Jeff Flake, wrote on Twitter that he would have “preferred that the President honor the judicial process and let it take its course.” Former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, whom Trump Fired in January, also slammed the pardon. ‘With his Pardon pen POTUS (Trump) reveals his own contempt for our Constitution, our courts and our founding principles of equality and Justice.
Arpaio, who has called himself “America’s toughest sheriff,” was an early Trump supporter. Like Trump, he helped fuel unfounded allegations that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States. He used frequent appearances on television to establish a national platform for his views on immigration, which relied on tough enforcement measures and racial profiling.
This reminds me of the famous quote from Animal House: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” Trump supporters are apparently more equal than non-Trump supporters.
But, I Need A Pardon — I Didn’t Break That Many Laws
So, I guess if you want a pardon, you need to be a Trump supporter and be an outspoken opponent of civil rights, like Sheriff Joe. I’m sure that James Alex Fields Jr., who has been charged with second-degree murder and three counts of malicious wounding in Charlottesville, is happy about this pardon. Maybe he is next. Also, there are many white supremacists who I’m sure feel as deserving as the sheriff, after all, they are racist, unrepentant, and Trump Supporters, just like Sheriff Joe. What’s next?
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