This past Friday proved to be a major day in Donald Trump’s presidency. As Texas was preparing for what was forecasted to be one of worst storms the country has seen in recent times, Trump was preparing to deal with his first natural disaster in the White House. President Trump spent the day receiving constant updates on Hurricane Harvey and gauging the response needed for disaster relief. Sounds to me like something that should take full focus; not for Trump though.
Trump has been planning and searching for a convenient time to issue his first presidential pardon long before he boasted the idea during an Arizona rally last week. As the Lone Star state was being barraged by the hurricane, President Trump formally and informally announced his pardon of controversial sheriff, Joe Arpaio . In many ways, Sheriff Arpaio is an extension of Trump: While they are both adamantly opposed to immigration, one incites and the other follows. Trump issues and Arpaio enforces.
So who is this old sheriff in town? Joe Arpaio was first elected sheriff of Maricopa County in Arizona in 1992. Within years, he gained national attention for his decision to ban cigarettes and even coffee from his prisons to cut costs. As the attention grew, so did his lust for controversy. His actions went from mistreatment of inmates to increased racial profiling to eventual public critique of former President Obama. Arpaio was a lead promoter of the “show us your birth certificate” debacle and even sent a group to Hawaii to investigate . Sounds a lot like someone else we know…
On several occasions, Sheriff Arpaio was caught up and convicted on the wrong side of the law. Arpaio orchestrated the 2007 arrest of two local journalists that were very critical of the sheriff. Their charges were dropped and they sued the sheriff’s office for millions of dollars in a settlement. For years, the sheriff and his department were subject to multiple lawsuits for the mistreatment, discrimination against, and rights violations of Latinos. After ignoring these rulings and continuing the practice for years, Joe Arpaio was convicted of contempt of court this July. By that time, however, he was former Sheriff Arpaio after losing re-election last November to a Democrat.
The comparison to Donald Trump is startling and makes the presidential pardon that much more contentious. On the same day he officially extended his ban on transgender military service and with the impending landfall of Hurricane Harvey, Trump pushed his agenda under the cover of the storm. The entire country followed the path and destruction of the record hurricane and Trump followed his flawed political positions.
While taking advantage of the timing, Trump unconventionally issued the pardon without notifying the Justice Department (But what does he know about justice?). His actions were immediately criticized by both Democrats and Republicans. Trump assumingly tried to issue the pardon at a time it would be overlooked in the news, but many took notice.
Among those that disagree with the pardon for its inconsiderate timing and moral faulting, some are drawing similarities to the ongoing investigation with Russia . Oh, you forgot about that? Don’t worry, I didn’t. Flashback to the first White House official to be voted out, Michael Flynn: He was being investigated for ties and conversations he had with Russian officials during and after the campaign. Donald Trump met with former FBI Director James Comey and asked him to drop the investigation into the National Security Advisor and Russia after Flynn resigned from his position. When Comey refused, Trump used the extent of his presidential powers to halt the investigation in the only way he could: firing James Comey.
So when faced with the inevitable conviction of someone he knew was guilty, he took matters into his own hands. He (questionably) legally helped his guilty friend out by removing the legal process altogether. Joe Arpaio, a strong supporter of Trump’s, was awaiting sentencing in October after being convicted. Donald Trump reportedly asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions to drop the charges on the self-proclaimed “Toughest Sheriff in America.” When Sessions refused, Trump again took matters into his own hands.
Yes, I just used this story to bring up Russia. I brought this most recent problem to draw comparison to the largest problem. Some might want us to forget that there’s still a Russia investigation being spearheaded by special prosecutor Robert Mueller, but not on my watch. The similarities between these situations are worth mentioning and the similarities between Trump and Arpaio are even more eerie. This pardoning is just another form of Trump using his presidential powers to help himself and his friends. His family gets free protection and travel, his supporters get around the law, and the American people are stuck in the middle with a president that doesn’t care.
Written By: CJ Wilcox (@CJWilcox7)
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