It should come as no surprise that Trump would reward ex-Sheriff Arpaio with the get-out-of-jail-free pardon. They have been attached at the hip since their partnership in their looney birther crusade about President Obama’s birth place.
President Trump and Sheriff Joe Arpaio have both used the same hateful, racist and anti-immigrant bombast for years. The difference is that Trump has inflamed anti-immigrant rhetoric while Sheriff Arpaio put into practice the abusive and discriminatory racial profiling that Trump has lauded. Arpaio once boasted that his “Tent City” prison was operated as his personal “concentration camp.”
Arpaio was convicted of using abusive and unconstitutional racial profiling tactics for years to arrest and incarcerate immigrants. He was found guilty in July 2017 of criminal contempt for defying a Judge’s 2011 order to end his racial profiling of Latinos and turning them over to federal immigration authorities. Arpaio was to be sentenced October 5th for up to six months in jail.
Arpaio is the second most well-known birther. The number one birther promoter was Trump. In an interview on the Today Show in 2011, Trump claimed he sent detectives to Hawaii to investigate Obama’s birth certificate.
“I have people that actually have been studying it and they cannot believe what they’re finding,” Trump told host Meredith Vieira. “You have people now down there searching, I mean in Hawaii?” she asked. “Absolutely,” he replied. “And they cannot believe what they’re finding.”
Trump has never produced any evidence that he sent anyone to Hawaii and has never provided any evidence to support his claims. He finally admitted that Obama is a citizen.
In 2012 Arpaio sent one of his deputies to Hawaii to search Obama birth records. In 2016 Arpaio was still claiming that Obama’s birth certificate was a forgery.
They share far more than the birther connection; their anti-immigrant tirades have been nearly identical.
“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists” Trump said in June 2015. Later in 2015 Trump said, “What can be simpler or more accurately stated? The Mexican Government is forcing their most unwanted people into the United States. They are, in many cases, criminals, drug dealers, rapists, etc.”
Arpaio became the face of immigrant bashing in the early 1990s with his “Tent City.” He reintroduced the use of chain gangs for prisoners including women and juvenile inmates. In 2008 at the Arizona American Italian Club in Phoenix, Arpaio allegedly boasted of the camp’s toughness, comparing it to a Nazi death camp.
“I already have a concentration camp,” Arpaio said during the 2008 appearance. “It’s called Tent City.” This open air prison in Phoenix often measured temperatures in the summer above 100 degrees. Arpaio further demeaned prisoners by forcing them to wear pink underwear. He reduced their food rations from three meals a day to two to save money. He proudly bragged about the abusive conditions of prisoners and touted his nickname as “America’s toughest Sheriff.”
Arpaio often espoused arrogant claims similar to Trump’s claim that, “Trump could shoot someone in the middle of 5th Avenue and wouldn’t lose his voters.”
“Nobody is higher than me. I am the elected sheriff by the people. I don’t serve any governor or the president,” bragged Arpaio.
Arpaio’s arrogant disregard for the rule of law was evident in his contempt trial. The federal prosecuting attorney John Keller said Arpaio’s words show that he was willfully defiant of Judge Snow’s Order to end his racial profiling…“He didn’t care about the federal court injunction,” Keller said. “That wasn’t going to stop him from running his office the way he saw fit.”
Judge Bolton that found Arpaio guilty of contempt provided the reason for her decision.
“Despite this knowledge, the defendant broadcast to the world and to his subordinates that he would and they should continue ‘what he had always been doing,’” Bolton said.
Both Democrats and Republicans have spoken out against Trump’s pardon for Arpaio. Sen. Catherine Cortez-Masto, Democrat-Nevada, criticized the pardon.
“The president has claimed to want law and order for our country. Yet he has pardoned a man who was sued by the Department of Justice for discriminating against Latinos, that questioned the citizenship of President Obama, and who was convicted of contempt for disobeying a court order to stop unlawfully detaining immigrants,” said Cortez-Masto.
On Friday, Sen. John McCain, was critical of the Trump Pardon.
“No one is above the law and the individuals entrusted with the privilege of being sworn law officers should always seek to be beyond reproach in their commitment to fairly enforcing the laws they swore to uphold. Mr. Arpaio was found guilty of criminal contempt for continuing to illegally profile Latinos living in Arizona based on their perceived immigration status in violation of a judge’s orders. The President has the authority to make this pardon, but 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.”
Paul Ryan’s spokesperson added to the criticism, “Law enforcement officials have a special responsibility to respect the rights of everyone in the United States. We should not allow anyone to believe that responsibility is diminished by this pardon.”
Has there been any comment from Iowa’s two Senators on the Arpaio pardon? They both claim to support the rule of law and emphasize the independence of the judiciary. Iowans need to hear from them.
by Rick Smith
Photo via Gage Skidmore