Coming off a weekend of record unpopularity so early in one’s term, President Trump has decided he might do the incredibly popular thing of extending a presidential pardon.
Just kidding. It’s not popular. Which is why presidents usually save their pardoning power for their last days in office.
And who would the lucky recipient be, you’re likely wondering. None other than “America’s Toughest Sheriff” Joe Arpaio.
Arpaio was found guilty of criminal contempt of court by a judge in Arizona last week for continuing traffic patrols targeted at suspected illegal aliens in 2011, despite a court order to stop the practice. Arpaio admitted he continued the patrols in Maricopa County in court proceedings and now faces up to six months in jail.
Arpaio is known for his rapacious policy toward illegal immigration. He also became notorious for his reimplementation of chain gangs, making inmates wear pink underwear and housing inmate overflow in tent barracks in the desert, where temperatures would soar over 100 degrees.
Trump said he was “seriously considering” pardoning Arpaio, citing his many years as “an outstanding sheriff.”
“Is there anyone in local law enforcement who has done more to crack down on illegal immigration than Sheriff Joe?” asked Trump. “He has protected people from crimes and saved lives. He doesn’t deserve to be treated this way.”
Arpaio is expected to not likely receive any jail time as he has no prior convictions. Trump could possibly wait until after the sentencing in October to decide whether or not he’ll do it.
Arpaio told Fox News that if offered, “I would accept the pardon because I am 100 percent not guilty.” But admitted the pardon could cause problems for the president.
Well, at least one person is thinking ahead and using his brain (this time).
Pardoning Arpaio would simply indicate to many in the country that the president has little respect for due process and the law, all of which has been applied in Arpaio’s case. Anyone advising the president on this one had better tell him to keep his powder dry.