Published August 23, 2017 / Updated August 7, 2020
Pardoning Joe Arpaio
Sheriff Arpaio created a police state in Arizona; a pardon would legitimize that
At Donald Trump’s Phoenix rally the President engaged in an hour-long off-script defense of himself, mostly. The rally was about how he felt maligned by the media following his lackluster condemnation of Nazis after the Charlottesville debacle, how he felt personally persecuted by leaks and his lack of real policy success and, of course, the wall. Trump threatened a government shutdown if funds for the project were blocked, saying “if we have to close down our government, we’re building that wall.”
But the stand-out remark in the 77-minute long tirade was a suggestion — promise may be too strong a word — that he would pardon Joe Arpaio, the former Arizona sheriff now facing jail time for his willful disregard for a court order demanding he cease use of racial profiling in his enforcement immigration laws. Arpaio instructed officers to detain people on the basis of “their speech, what they look like, if they look like they came from another country” in violation of a federal court order.
Besides the racial profiling case that brought him down, Arpaio’s tenure as sheriff was characterized by a litany of abuses. He deliberately encouraged cruel and unusual jail conditions, serving pre-trial prisoners rotten food, housing them in dangerously hot conditions, denying them medical care, and preventing access to toilets. Sex crimes in Arpaio’s jurisdiction went uninvestigated, especially when perpetrated against the children of illegal immigrants. He ignored rape victims, including the mentally disabled. He used the power of his office to press baseless charges against political opponents, violated election law, and used nearly $100,000,000 in state money to build a personal political empire.
The President’s ability to pardon is among the broadest and most unchecked of the authorities granted to the executive branch. There is absolutely no debate over Trump’s legal authority of pardon Joe Arpaio for any and all crimes committed over the course of his eighty-five year life. But the decision to pardon Arpaio would legitimize the policies and procedures he put in place, especially if Trump were to pardon him now, in the early days of his Presidency and not on his way out of the White House.
Tell Congress (and your governor) what you think
Text resist to 50409 to contact your Senators and Representatives to let them know what you think about the President’s promise to pardon Joe Arpaio. Elite members of the resistance can also contact their state governors; let them know what lessons you want them to take from the likely pardoning of Joe Arpaio.