Although disgraced Arizona former sheriff Joe Arpaio was gifted a with a questionable and completely unwarranted pardon from the crook in the White House, it still isn’t enough to satisfy any of the racists in Trump’s administration. The sad truth is that Trump pardoning Arpaio prematurely signaled that the rule of law took another blow from dirty Don. Now Trump’s racist attorney general is wading in to completely erase Arpaio’s conviction in a blow to a federal Judge, the rule of law and the judicial system.
It was announced yesterday (Monday) that since Trump’s good friend Joe Arpaio demands his conviction on criminal contempt of court be dismissed, Trump’s Justice Department duly filed an amicus brief telling a federal Judge to “give Sheriff Joe” what he wants. Obviously the DOJ didn’t put it in quite those words, but they did, however, reiterate Arpaio’s claim that a pardon from Trump means he was never found guilty and never convicted; Arpaio wants his name cleared of any wrongdoing and Trump’s DOJ agrees. This is a really bad sign going forward.
Shortly after Trump pardoned Arpaio, the former sheriff told the federal Judge he wants the conviction “tossed” as if nothing ever happened and he wasn’t in contempt of court for over five years. Trump’s DOJ filed an amicus brief with the federal court agreeing with Arpaio that he should be declared innocent.
The disgraced Arpaio’s lawyers have argued that even though he will never face justice or be sentenced, the poor former sheriff has no legal path to be declared innocent. According to Arpaio, that questionable pardon renders his case “resolved” in the eyes of the law, so his conviction must be thrown out and his “good name” cleared of any wrongdoing. He says that presidential pardon “nullifies the guilty verdict in the case.”
Federal District Court Judge Susan Bolton canceled an October 5th sentencing date after the ill-advised pardon and set an October 4th date for both prosecutors and defense lawyers to file briefs on why she should, or should not, do what Arpaio demands and pretend he never broke the law.
Although the DOJ has no business wading into the case, they are acutely interested in seeing that Arpaio gets his criminal record wiped clean; it is a slap in the face to a Federal Judge from Trump’s Department of Justice. The DOJ brief states:
“A pardon issued before entry of final judgment moots a criminal case because the defendant will face no consequences that result from the guilty verdict. Accordingly, the [Trump] government agrees [with Arpaio] that the Court should vacate all orders and dismiss the case as moot.”
It is as if nothing ever happened. And as if Arpaio’s flagrant flouting the law, and disregarding the constitutionality of a federal court’s authority, is now legal in Trump’s America; but only if the convicted criminal is an anti-immigrant racist and close Trump ally and supporter.
That pardon has elicited legal challenges and there should be a robust stand against Trump’s actions; if for no other reason than Trump failed to follow his own Department of Justice’s protocol and rules for granting a “presidential pardon.” Of course those rules and procedures are not the grounds an activist group, Protect Democracy, is claiming to “thwart Trump’s violations of legal norms,” but it is a path they may want to investigate.
The group of lawyers sent a letter to Raymond N. Hulser and John Dixon Keller of the Public Integrity Section, Criminal Division of the Justice Department, arguing that the pardon goes beyond constitutional limits. In their letter to the DOJ, the Protect Democracy lawyers claim Trump cannot “obviate the court’s powers to enforce its orders when the constitutional rights of others are at stake.” They added:
“The president [Trump] can’t use the pardon power to immunize lawless officials from consequences for violating people’s constitutional rights. After repeatedly belittling and undermining judges verbally and on Twitter, now President Trump is escalating his attack on the courts into concrete actions. His pardon and celebration of Joe Arpaio for ignoring a [federal] judicial order is a threat to our democracy and every citizen’s rights, and should not be allowed to stand.”
There is another little matter that should be addressed and it is Trump’s blatant disregard for the long-established process of gaining a presidential pardon; Trump violated each and every one of them.
Just a sampling of the procedures Trump ignored was the requirement that the convicted party files a petition with the Office of the Pardon Attorney at the Department of Justice. According to the DOJ website, Arpaio is required to complete a pardon petition that “must be completed fully and accurately and notarized in order to be considered.” That process, like the U.S. Constitution means nothing to Trump.
The DOJ instructs all petitioners that a presidential pardon:
“Is ordinarily a sign of forgiveness and is granted in recognition of the applicant’s acceptance of responsibility for the crime and established good conduct for a significant period of time after conviction or release from confinement. A pardon is not a sign of vindication and does not connote or establish innocence. For that reason, when considering the merits of a pardon petition, pardon officials take into account the petitioner’s acceptance of responsibility, remorse, and atonement for the offense.” (Author bold)
Obviously, Arpaio continues claiming, like his racist hero Trump, that he did nothing wrong because he is “above the law” and was “just doing his job” in violating a federal court order for over five years. And he just said yesterday it was a “job” he would never stop doing or apologize for. In fact, he made the same claim in 2011 when the Court ordered him to cease and desist and he has reiterated that claim without pause as he continued violating the federal court’s order. In fact, in the court’s guilty finding in July the Judge noted that:
“The Defendant broadcast to the world and to his subordinates that he would and they should continue ‘what he had always been doing.’”
Arpaio, like Trump, believes he is exempt from following court orders like every other American citizen has to on pain of a conviction for “criminal contempt of court;” which is what Arpaio was found guilty of.
It is also noteworthy that Arpaio never “accepted responsibility for the crime” he certainly committed or established good conduct for a significant period of time “after conviction.” Because in violating the DOJ’s own rules, Trump just pardoned Arpaio barely three weeks after he was found guilty and convicted of a federal crime. Trump was so eager to sate his alt-right Nazis lust for “justice” for a fellow racist, that he didn’t wait for Arpaio to be sentenced and now he wants the conviction and guilty finding erased; to clear “former” sheriff Joe’s good name.
There are rumors that Arpaio is going to challenge one of Trump’s Republican “enemies,” Jeff Flake, for his Arizona Senate seat and he needs his criminal record wiped clean. It is not out of the realm of possibility that Trump is using the federal government agency to aid his racist ally’s electoral chances; Trump’s DOJ stepping in to pressure a federal court fits with any number of dirty tricks Trump will use to game the system.
It was bad enough that Trump pardoned Arpaio without going through the proper pardon process, but the DOJ butting in to pressure a federal Judge portends the “official” end of the rule of law in America.
It is not a stretch to imagine that Trump will issue a blanket pardon for all of his co-conspirators even before they face charges, particularly after he announced publicly that he “has complete pardon power;” a signal to his corrupt players that no matter what crimes they committed, they will never face justice. This should concern every American because there is every indication that no-one in Trump’s corrupt administration will ever face justice; including the dirty crook in the Oval Office.