On July 2nd I wrote a post about the former Sheriff of Maricopa Country, Arizona, Joe Arpaio. You may remember that he had lost his bid for re-election in 2016, after serving for 24 years, since 1993. At the time of my last post, Arpaio was standing trial in federal court on charges of ‘criminal contempt of court’.
In December 2011, U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow ordered Arpaio’s office to halt detentions based on nothing more than suspicion that a person might be in violation of federal immigration law. Arpaio’s response? “I’m still gonna do what I’m doing. I’m still gonna arrest illegal aliens.” And he did keep on doing what he had been: racial profiling and inhumane treatment of prisoners, refusing to investigate sex crimes, and closing cases without investigation, to name a few. I meant to write an update to that story when a decision was handed down by the court, but I got sidetracked and failed to do so. I shall do so now, with another, new interesting twist.
On July 24th, United States District Judge Susan R. Bolton found Mr. Arpaio, age 85, guilty of criminal contempt of court, a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail. In her decision, Judge Bolton wrote, “Not only did Defendant abdicate responsibility, he announced to the world and to his subordinates that he was going to continue business as usual no matter who said otherwise.”
His lawyers, of course, immediately said they would appeal the verdict. Some supporters of stricter immigration enforcement rallied behind Mr. Arpaio. Dan Stein, the president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, said the election of President Trump had vindicated Mr. Arpaio’s policies.
“Clearly Joe Arpaio won the war, even though he lost this particular battle. Like any good American citizen, he recognized his obligation and was willing to pay the price for a form of civil disobedience.”
At this point it bears remembering that Arpaio’s tent-city jail required prisoners to wear pink underwear and sleep in tents in the brutal Arizona heat. They were served only two meatless meals per day, often consisting of moldy bread, rotten fruit and other contaminated food. Prisoners were frequently denied care for serious medical and mental health needs. At one point, Arpaio made the statement that even if he had a billion dollars he wouldn’t change the way he runs his jails. Now, this is the man who Mr. Stein claims “paid the price”. No, the prisoners – Arpaio’s victims – paid the price for his racism and inhumanity. It was precisely this that earned Arpaio my Idiot of the Week award last October.
Which brings me to the present. With all the news about last weekend’s horrors in Charlottesville, this tidbit went largely unnoticed:
“President Trump told Fox News he is “seriously considering” issuing a pardon for former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio. Trump told the news outlet during a conversation in Bedminster, N.J., that the pardon could come quickly, perhaps in a matter of days.
“I might do it right away, maybe early this week. I am seriously thinking about it,” Trump said, according to Fox News. He said Arpaio was a “great American patriot” who had “done a lot in the fight against illegal immigration.”
“Is there anyone in local law enforcement who has done more to crack down on illegal immigration than Sheriff Joe?” Trump said, according to Fox News. “He has protected people from crimes and saved lives. He doesn’t deserve to be treated this way.” – Matt Zapotosky, The Washington Post, 14 August 2017
Arpaio told Fox News, “I would accept the pardon because I am 100 percent not guilty.”
I predicted in my last post about Arpaio that he would never serve a single day of prison time, even if found guilty. My main reason for believing so at that time was primarily his age. He is 85 years old, and I thought an appeal was likely, which could drag on for another year or two, and at that point I expected his attorneys to plead for leniency based on Arpaio’s age. Never in my wildest dreams did I even consider a presidential pardon.
There can be no denying that Arpaio is a racist. That much is obvious and he doesn’t even bother to deny it. So … if Trump pardons Arpaio, what message do you think that sends to the very white supremacist groups who perpetuated the violence and death in Charlottesville last weekend?
Remember Walter Shaub, former head of the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) about whom I wrote last month ? He resigned his position because the Trump administration was making a sham of the word ‘ethics’ and Shaub felt that he was no longer able to do his job. Today, Shaub posted a single tweet about Trump’s proposal to pardon Joe Arpaio …
“Scrambling to reassure the white supremacists and nazis that he didn’t really mean what he said to the “normies” today…”
Can anybody disagree? I said to another fellow blogger earlier that I could picture Trump on the phone with Richard Spencer or David Duke after his speech, saying, “Don’t worry … I didn’t mean a word I said, but you know … my staff told me I had to say all that stuff or else we might have riots here in Washington … but I am in your court, so … no worries.”
Ladies and Gentlemen … the man who is occupying the White House, the man who refers to himself as “president”, is in bed with the worst bunch of people to be found in the United States. Expect many more weekends like the past one.