Trump Pardons Racist Lawbreaker Joe Arpaio
by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org – Home – Stephen Lendman)
Former Maricopa County, Arizona self-styled “America’s toughest sheriff,” serving from January 1, 1993 – January 1, 2017, flagrantly abused the power of his office throughout his tenure.
A Federal court monitor was appointed to oversee his operations because of complaints about racial profiling. The Justice Department called his racist policies some of the worst in US history.
A DOJ suit charged him with unlawful discriminatory police conduct. He notoriously was hostile to Latino immigrants.
After a federal court barred him from conducting further “immigration round-ups,” he continued detaining “persons for further investigation without reasonable suspicion that a crime has been or is being committed.”
In July, he was convicted of defying a court order, US District Judge Susan Bolton declaring him guilty of criminal contempt of court, a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in prison.
“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,” Bolton said in her ruling.
At the time, ACLU deputy legal director Cecillia Wang called the verdict “a vindication for all the victims of his illegal stops and detentions whose constitutional rights were violated.”
Throughout his tenure, Arpaio was defiant, publicly insisting his practices were legal, refusing to change them.
Sentencing was scheduled for October 5 – not forthcoming after Trump’s Friday pardon. A White House statement said the following:
“Sheriff Joe Arpaio is now eighty-five years old, and after more than fifty years of admirable service to our nation, he is worthy candidate for a presidential pardon.”
A Justice Department spokesman said “the president exercised his lawful authority and we respect his decision.”
The Advancement Project’s executive director Judith Browne denounced Trump’s pardon, saying “(h)e envisions a country where…rogue cops are encouraged to abuse their power and profile people of color.”
“This move signals to police that even if the courts find them guilty of racial profiling, they will have the backing of the president of the United States. This is yet another drastic moral and leadership failure from Trump.”
Controversial US presidential pardons happened earlier. Presidents can pardon or grant clemency to anyone they choose – free from congressional or judicial oversight.
It’s one of the most controversial presidential powers. In 1795, George Washington pardoned so-called Whiskey Rebellion tax protesters involved in an armed insurrection.
Twenty convicted of treason were sentenced to death. Washington pardoned them to avoid similar actions.
James Buchanan pardoned Brigham Young, involved in what was known as the Utah War, a year-long standoff with federal troops, causing dozens of deaths.
In 1868, all former Confederate soldiers were pardoned by presidential order.
President Harding commuted Eugene Debs’ sentence to time served – wrongfully imprisoned for sedition and violation of the Espionage Act for opposing US involvement in WW I.
Stripped of his citizenship at the time of his conviction, it was posthumously restored by Congress in 1976, America bicentennial year.
Richard Nixon commuted the sentence of imprisoned Teamster boss Jimmy Hoffa – convicted of jury tampering and mail fraud in two separate trials.
Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon post-Watergate. If Bush/Cheney or Obama were involved in a similar incident, no impeachment or resignation would have followed.
Nixon alienated hardline Republicans by going to China and other liberal policies, not for the break-ins of so-called White House Plumbers or missing tape.
Clinton pardoned notorious billionaire fugitive Marc Rich, a felon involved in what was called “the biggest tax evasion case in history” at the time. He was one of the FBI’s most wanted fugitives for years.
Hillary played a key role in what happened. Rich’s legal team called her a “secret weapon” in getting a presidential pardon – on January 20, 2001, hours before husband Bill left office.
Jimmy Carter called the action “disgraceful.” Rich made large donations to the Clintons, their foundation and undemocratic Democrat party.
Trump followed in the footsteps of earlier unjustifiable pardons by absolving Arpaio’s racist anti-immigrant practices, along with his history of deplorable actions.
My newest book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”
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