Pardon Me

Is that really what's happening in this country nowadays? Is the President of the United States really going to pardon racist sheriffs who repeatedly break the law and willfully violate court orders? The President of the United States is pardoning Joe Arpaio for intentionally disregarding the courts of the United States when they repeatedly instructed him to stop using unlawful practices to target minorities.

We can leave aside how Arpaio is a racist who flouted the law at every opportunity. We have leave aside how Arpaio is so narcissistic he plotted a fake assassination attempt against himself then framed a man for it so he could get good publicity. We can leave aside how Arpaio is responsible for numerous deaths and the continued sexual abuse of many people, including children.

We can leave aside just how horrible a person Arpaio is. It won't change the nature of this case. Arpaio did used unlawful practices as sheriff to target a class of people he didn't like. The courts told him to stop. He responded (metaphorically), "Screw you!" The courts told him to stop again. And again. And again. Each time, he responded, "Screw you!" The courts finally got tired of this and recommended he be prosecuted. He was, and he was convicted.

Then Donald Trump came along and told the courts, "Screw you!" and pardoned Arpaio. Because apparently the President of the United States wants to defend individuals who intentionally engage in unlawful practices to target people he dislikes. Trump basically just told everyone who might want to target minorities, "Hey, don't worry about the courts telling you what you're doing is illegal. Just keep doing it. I've got your back."

I don't have the words.

9 comments

  1. Arpaio never got to face a jury because he was tried for a misdemeanor. ICE had previously investigated and found nothing wrong with Arpaio's office, but after Obama partially lost a Supreme Court case, they kicked Arizona out of the 287g program.
    It strikes me as a political prosecution, and I'm OK with Trump's pardon, though it's possible Arpaio would have been found not guilty on appeal, as he claims he was following legal advice on the government's orders, destroying a contempt of court charge.

    Plus Arpaio didn't frame anyone for his assassination; it was entrapment.

  2. MikeN, your comment here is disingenuous. I'm not going to engage in it point-by-point. Instead, I'll make a simple point. Joe Arpaio acknowledged all the charges were true in a civil case. You are free to believe it was just a political prosecution, even though it was carried out under Donald Trump's own administration, but here is an excerpt from the judge's ruling in the civil case which led to this:

    Defendants did not make a good faith effort to fairly and impartially investigate and discipline misconduct or to discover other materials responsive to Plaintiffs’ pretrial requests. To escape accountability for their own misconduct, and the misconduct of those who had implemented their decisions, Defendants, or their proxies, named disciplinary officers who were biased in their favor and had conflicts, Defendants remained in control of investigations in which they themselves had conflicts, Defendants promulgated special inequitable disciplinary policies pertaining only to Melendres-related internal investigations, Defendants delayed investigations so as to justify the imposition of lesser or no discipline, Defendants misapplied their own disciplinary policies, and Defendants asserted intentional misstatements of fact to their own investigators and to the court-appointed Monitor. The Defendants’ unfair, partial, and inequitable application of discipline disproportionally damaged members of the Plaintiff class.

    Arpaio acknowledged this was all true. He openly acknowledged, in a video taped confession, that he did everything the court said. He intentionally had his mean lie and hide evidence from the courts to cover what they did. What they did was intentionally ignore a court injunction. Arpaio acknowledged he did this. There is no question what he did was unlawful. He acknowledges it was. Years before that, he routinely boasted in public he would never cede the power to do the things he did to the federal government, which is exactly what he went on to do and got prosecuted for doing.

    There is no room to doubt Arpaio intentionally deceived the courts. There is no room to doubt Arpaio intentionally "enforced laws" on immigration as he saw fit, even when he knew he lacked the authority to do so and was doing so in direct contradiction to a court injunctions. He acknowledges these things himself. I won't engage in a point-by-point discussion of the vague, hand-waving sophistry you might wish to engage in. If you have a substantial point to make, you are free to provide quotations and references along with an explanation sufficient to encompass the breadth of the argument you wish to make. Otherwise, all I have to say to you is stop being disingenuous in order to defend a racist, narcissistic buffoon who intentionally broke the law.

    Plus Arpaio didn't frame anyone for his assassination; it was entrapment.

    Entrapment is the act in which a law enforcement agent (or agents) induce a person to commit a crime they otherwise would not commit. Framing a person happens when someone provides false evidence or testimony in order to prove a person guilty of a crime. In this case, police officers actively encouraged a man to commit a crime he otherwise would not have committed then lied to cover up their involvement.

    If you wish to make a semantic distinction between a case where police officers induce a man to commit a crime then act in a dishonest manner to hide their actions, to the point of destroying evidence and committing perjury, and a case where police officers provide false testimony/evidence that a person committed a crime, you may. I think at the point the police destroyed evidence and lied under oath, few people will care whether it was "entrapment" or "framing." I think destroying evidence and lying under oath is enough to make most people view any line between "entrapment" and "framing" is as relatively imperceptible and settle on it being an example of both.

    But hey, go for it if you want. I love semantics. if you can draw some clear distinction here, you may catch my interest. Right now though, I just can't see the distinction. I think destroying evidence counts as providing false evidence. I think lying under oath counts as providing false testimony. Seeing as the police did both these things, I think it's reasonable to say they framed the guy. If you want to explain the semantics that let us say no, they didn't frame him, they just entrapped him, be my guess.

  3. Distinction between framing and entrapment is that the former implies the person being framed was innocent. I think there is a wide gulf between planting evidence on an innocent person, and getting someone to make a bomb from the parts you provide with intent to kill Arpaio or whatever it is they talked him into doing.

  4. MikeN, if you all but force a person into committing a crime, they may commit that crime, but they are not legally culpable because of the entrapment. Charging a person with a crime you entrapped him into doing is barely different from framing him for a crime he didn't commit. In both cases, the person is innocent of any wrongdoing. In this case, the cops also lied under oath and destroyed evidence, further blurring the line. Maybe there's some clear distinction, but I don't know where it'd be drawn.

    In any event, I appreciate you chose not to pursue your defense of the pardon. I really didn't want to have to discuss the details of how his guilty plea (and the specific things he confessed to) to the civil contempt charges makes the claimed defenses in his criminal contempt case silly.

  5. Brandon, I suspect Trump did not read, give weight or check all the Arpaio background you cited. I think he simply saw him as standing tough against illegal immigration enforcement and a victim of lefty political targeting.

    You and Trump may both be right.

  6. Ron Graf, I have no doubt Trump neither cared nor learned about the details of why Arpaio was charged and convicted. I suspect few people defending the decision have either. I doubt it is as simple as Trump viewing Arpaio as tough on illegal immigration though. At a minimum, the fact Arpaio was the second loudest advocate of birtherism (after Trump himself) must have had some influence on Trump's views.

    But whatever the reason Trump decided to do this (on a Friday and eve of a major hurricane, ensuring it got as little news coverage as possible), the reality of what Arpaio did and what this means remains the same. Trump and plenty of the people supporting his action may be happy to claim Arpaio was just a victim of political targeting, but anyone interested in more than pure partisanship will see that is BS.

    The Department of Justice which prosecuted Arpaio was Trump's. The judge who found him guilty, which many people have claimed to be a liberal hack, was a conservative judge appointed by Bush who Arpaio's council asked not to recuse himself. That's right, the judge, of his own volition, offered to recuse himself from the case. Both the prosecution and Arpaio's lawyers asked him not to.

    Did politicking play any role? Of course. Politics was part of why the federal government removed Arizona law enforcement from the program which allowed state and local authorities to enforce certain federal immigration laws. But politics isn't why the courts issued multiple injunctions against Arpaio's racial profiling practices. Politics isn't why the courts asked the DoJ to file contempt charges against Arpaio when he violated those courts. Politics isn't why when Arpaio confessed to repeatedly and intentionally violating court orders, as well as lying to cover up his actions, the courts felt it was worth extending the case beyond civil contempt to criminal contempt.

    Arpaio is an evil man who flouted the law whenever it suited him. I couldn't begin to cover all the horrible things, but one thing that merits mention is he's caused the deaths of dozens of prisoners by intentionally creating inhumane conditions. If people wanted to engage in political targeting, they'd have done something like try to charge him with manslaughter. But no, many people are happy to call him the victim of a "liberal" judge playing politics. Because apparently the judge was evil, but Arpaio doing things like hiring private investigators to go after the judge's wife was cool.

    Because he does that sort of thing. Arpaio loved to harass and intimidate anyone who he saw as an enemy. That it was illegal... well, psh. Who cares? Those nasty immigrants are ruining this country, after all. Clearly, people like Arpaio are the heroes for stopping them.

  7. >but Arpaio doing things like hiring private investigators to go after the judge's wife was cool.

    Do you know the details of this? Because the judge asked about it repeatedly.
    Arpaio had been informed that the judge's wife had said the judge wants to do everything he can to make sure Arpaio is not reelected.
    He then conducted an investigation to try and verify this information.

  8. MikeN:

    Do you know the details of this? Because the judge asked about it repeatedly.
    Arpaio had been informed that the judge's wife had said the judge wants to do everything he can to make sure Arpaio is not reelected.
    He then conducted an investigation to try and verify this information.

    I do. What happened is a woman named Karen Grissom sent Arpaio a message on Facebook saying more than a year earlier, she had a conversation in which the judge's* wife expressed such sentiments about Arpaio. Arpaio spoke about this with his lawyer, and his lawyer contacted Grissom. His conclusion was "the information from Ms. Grissom lacked substance or merit." He informed Arpaio of this conclusion, but then hired an individual named Dan Vogel to investigate the matter. The investigation found several people who backed up the idea Grissom met someone at a restaurant who said things like she claimed, though they couldn't even confirm it was the judge's wife and the story told by Grissom was inconsistent. This, mind you, was according to the man Arpaio's hired.

    What this all comes down to is a person contacted Arpaio on Facebook to say the judge's wife said she hated him. Based on that, and that alone, Arpaio decided to spend his citizens' money investigating to see if he could find dirt on the judge's wife. He didn't take the investigation far because there was nothing for him to latch onto, but this sort of irresponsible investigation is absurd and was commonplace for him. A much more fascinating example can be found in the investigation Arpaio launched which targeted the judge himself (as part of a supposedly vast conspiracy) based upon the word of one person named Dennis Montgomery. Even after Arpaio and his men knew without a doubt Montgomery was forging documents to support his claims of a massive conspiracy, they kept paying the guy to keep their "investigation" alive. An investigation which included claims the CIA hacked into US bank accounts and the DOJ had hacked into Arpaio's office's computers and bugged their phones.

    As a matter of clarity, I should point out all of this happened with the judge of Arpaio's civil contempt case, Judge G. Murray Snow. My discussion of whether or not Arpaio was targeted for political reasons dealt with a different judge, the judge who handled Arpaio's criminal contempt case. That judge was Judge Susan Bolton. I haven't been as clear about the distinction between the two because nobody talking about this topic seems to care about details at all, but I should try harder to avoid confusing things myself.

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