August 25, 2017
President Donald Trump has pardoned former Sheriff Joe Arpaio for his criminal contempt conviction, removing the only legal consequences the lawman faced stemming from a long-running racial-profiling suit.
The White House announced the pardon Friday evening in a news release that recounted Arpaio’s lengthy career of “admirable service” in federal and local law enforcement and called him “a worthy candidate for a Presidential pardon.”
Reached moments after the announcement, Arpaio said he had not spoken to
Trump, but “I’m very appreciative of the president issuing that pardon. It shows how he backs up law enforcement.”
Arpaio told The Arizona Republic he learned of the president’s action from his lawyer, who visited him Friday at about 4 p.m. at Arpaio’s Fountain Hills home. The lawyer delivered Arpaio’s wife, Ava, a birthday gift, and “the other gift was the pardon,” said Arpaio, who added that he and his wife planned to celebrate over a dinner of spaghetti with calamari and red wine at a favorite Italian restaurant.
Arpaio hints at comeback
Arpaio, who lost a 2016 re-election bid ending 24 years in office, hinted the pardon could set up a political comeback: “I told my wife that I was through with politics. But now I’ve decided I’m not through with politics because of what’s happening. I didn’t ask for a pardon. It has nothing to do with a pardon. I’ve been saying this for the last couple of months. I’ve got a lot to offer.”
He said he would hold a news conference early next week to discuss the “abuse” of the justice system.
Arpaio, 85, was convicted of criminal contempt on July 31, and was scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 5. He faced up to six months in jail.
But Trump hinted that a pardon would be forthcoming.
Trump and Arpaio have enjoyed a warm relationship since the early days of Trump’s presidential campaign. They share a hard-line stance on immigration, and Arpaio was one of the earliest public figures to offer Trump his full-throated endorsement.
Some Arizona Republicans praised Trump’s action.
In an emailed statement, Gov. Doug Ducey, whom Arpaio endorsed during Ducey’s 2014 run for governor, said the former sheriff deserves credit for his long tenure in law enforcement and public service.
“The president clearly has pardoning powers under the United States Constitution, and with this action, he has brought finality to this chapter in Arizona’s history,” said the statement from the Republican governor. “Sheriff Joe is my friend, and now he, Ava and their family can move on and enjoy their retirement together.”
But U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said while the pardon is within the president’s authority, “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.”
‘Spitting in their face’
Latino and migrant-rights leaders in Arizona said the pardon sends a message nationwide to officials, from police to judges: It’s OK for law enforcement to racially profile people of color and violate their civil rights.
“What’s scary is that this message is being sent not only to people in Arizona, it’s the message being sent to the country,” said Raquel Teran, a longtime community activist and organizer based in Phoenix.
“Arpaio was found guilty, and now the leader of this country gave him a free pass,” said Petra Falcon, a Latina activist in Phoenix.
Teran said her sister, an elementary-school teacher, constantly heard her students talk about Arpaio and how they feared their parents could be taken away while the former sheriff was in power.
Activists said the pardon was particularly disheartening coming in the wake of the president’s statements on racially motivated violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, which many saw as Trump giving a pass to white supremacists.
Arpaio’s conviction was, in part, the result of Latinos’ efforts to document cases of racial profiling. The former sheriff’s conviction meant justice had finally been served, they said.
But following Trump’s pardon, Latinos faced the reality that Arpaio would never spend a night in jail.
Despite the disappointment, Latino leaders rallied their community Friday night.
Phoenix immigration attorney Daniel Rodriguez, who gained legal status as a “dreamer,” said the president “is continuing to show us how despicable a human being he can be.”
“The real victory has always been the tireless effort of the community to ensure the stories of Latinos were heard, the courage of the Latinos that came forward, and the affirmation of our court of justice that the Maricopa County sheriff’s department was racially profiling against Latinos,” he said.
Carlos Garcia, director of the immigrant-rights group Puente, said by pardoning Arpaio, Trump is showing he supports racial profiling.
Trump’s pardon is an insult to victims of Arpaio’s policing practices, Garcia said. “Now, he’s just spitting in their face, disregarding their pain and how they suffered in the hands of Arpaio.”
‘He’s gonna be just fine’
The pardon had seemed all but inevitable.
Aug. 14 was the first time Trump spoke publicly about the issue, saying during a Fox News interview that he was “seriously considering” a get-out-of-jail-card for the former sheriff.
Then during his fiery speech at the Phoenix Convention Center, Trump again signaled it was forthcoming.
“Was Sheriff Joe convicted for doing his job?” Trump asked the crowd, which was answered with a roar. “He should’ve had a jury, but you know what? I’ll make a prediction. I think he’s gonna be just fine, OK?”
Trump said he wouldn’t announce the pardon that evening because he didn’t want to create “controversy.”
Thousands of Democrats and members of local immigrant communities took to the streets surrounding the convention center during Trump’s Tuesday rally to protest.
Maricopa County Supervisor Steve Gallardo, a Democrat, said the county should sue the former sheriff. The racial-profiling case alone has a $92 million price tag, he said.
“We have an obligation to turn back to Sheriff Joe and say, ‘You should help pay for some of this cost,’ ” Gallardo said.
Meanwhile, many conservative Republicans voiced their approval.
U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., called Arpaio’s prosecution partisan and welcomed the pardon, saying in a statement that it “reflects the very reason we voted President Trump into the Oval Office, to uphold the rule of law.”
Arpaio’s conviction stemmed from a decade-old racial-profiling case brought at the height of illegal-immigration crackdowns by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office. Attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union and others argued that Arpaio’s traffic stops and “saturation patrol” tactics were discriminatory because they singled out Latinos.
The class-action lawsuit resulted in a landmark victory for immigration-rights advocates.
But before the case went to trial, U.S. District Court Judge G. Murray Snow in 2011 ordered the agency to stop detaining people solely on suspicion they were in the country illegally. They were either to arrest individuals for a state crime or let them be on their way.
In 2013, Snow found deputies had used race as a factor in their policing, and ordered sweeping reforms of the office’s policies.
But Arpaio’s deputies continued business as usual for at least 17 more months. According to trial testimony, 171 people were illegally detained by MCSO deputies and turned over to federal immigration authorities.
Snow found Arpaio in civil contempt for violating his order, and forwarded the case for criminal contempt. Prosecutors from the U.S Department of Justice’s Public Integrity Unit prosecuted the case in a bench trial this summer before U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton.
Arpaio’s attorneys argued the violations were unintentional, and that Arpaio delegated the court’s order to subordinates.
Bolton flatly rejected that argument. In her ruling, she said evidence showed Arpaio’s “flagrant disregard” for Snow’s order.
Unusually early pardon
Trump’s decision to pardon his political ally Arpaio might not have a major impact among all voters but is sure to “intensify Hispanic concern about Trump,” one political expert said.
“For Donald Trump, the only law that counts is the law of loyalty to Trump,” said John J. “Jack” Pitney Jr., a political scientist at Claremont McKenna College in Southern California. “This could generate greater Hispanic anger and thereby greater Hispanic turnout (at the polls). In that respect, it’s consequential.”
Trump appears to have short-circuited the normal Justice Department process for pardons, which he has the constitutional power to do, Pitney added.
“The pardon power is unchecked. The president can pardon any federal prisoner, or anybody convicted of a federal offense, for any reason and nobody can reverse it,” he said.
But Larry Hammond, a defense attorney and former Watergate prosecutor, questioned the legality of the pardon.
“I think that this is an unconstitutional pardon,” he said. “If you think you can pardon people in contempt of the other branches of government, you frustrate the separation of power.”
P.S. Ruckman, a political-science professor who edits the Pardon Power blog that explores the history of presidential clemency, said Trump’s pardon is unusually early for a president’s first term and will further a misperception about the presidential power.
“What’s most notable about this, is what this isn’t about. It’s not about some policy change. It’s a stunt. It’s an idiosyncratic stunt as far as clemency is concerned,” Ruckman said. “It feeds into that perception that only rich and famous and notable people get pardons. That’s false, but a lot of people believe that. This will enhance that.”
Republic reporters Robert Anglen, Laura Gómez, Dianna M. Náñez and Maria Polletta contributed to this article.
President Trump saw Sheriff Joe’s conviction for what it is: a political witch hunt by holdovers in the Obama justice department!
“For those who are asking how they can continue to help, a donation to my Legal Defense Fund goes directly to paying off legal fees from this fight” – Sheriff Joe Arpaio Sheriff Joe Arpaio Legal Defense Fund
Editor’s note: Sheriff Joe Arpaio put illegal aliens in a tent city. Most people don’t know that Hispanics belong to the Communist group La Raza. Governor Jerry Brown (D-CA) and his La Raza minions tried to blow up the Orville, CA damn and starve the American people in February 2017. Race baiting and destruction of property are the only weapons of the Communist liberal “left”.