Tag Archives: Joe Arpaio

Trump makes our heads spin over DACA

My head is spinning. I feel almost like the Linda Blair character in the film “The Exorcist.”

Donald Trump decides to rescind the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals executive order; he gives Congress six months to find a legislative solution.

He then says he’ll “revisit” the issue if Congress fails to come up with a way to shield undocumented immigrants who were brought here by their parents when they were children.

He does all this while — and this is truly mind-boggling — granting a full presidential pardon for a former Arizona sheriff who was convicted of breaking the law. “Sheriff Joe” Arpaio, the ex-Maricopa County sheriff, got a pardon after a judge convicted him of flouting a federal court order that banned him from rounding up individuals who he suspected of being illegal immigrants.

So … Trump rescinds DACA, then says he’ll “revisit” the issue, sending out a signal that he might take back his decision to rescind DACA order. He spoke this week of the feelings he has for DACA residents, how he “loves” them, how heavily the issue weighs on his heart.

I might be inclined to believe the president on that score — except for the Arpaio pardon!

Which is it, Mr. President? In what direction is this individual leaning?

There goes my head again. It’s spinning.

No ‘allegedly’ about it; Arpaio is guilty

I have refrained from criticizing the editorial positions taken by the newspaper where my journalism career ended … but I’m going to make a brief exception here.

The Amarillo Globe-News published an editorial this week that questions the outrage expressed over the presidential pardon of former “Sheriff Joe” Arpaio. The editorial missed the mark on two important points.

First point: The AGN refers to the “alleged” crime for which Arpaio was convicted. Others have said as much already, but there’s no “alleged” or “allegedly” about it.

Arpaio was found guilty by a U.S. District judge of disobeying a lawful court order, which prohibited him from continuing his roundup of individuals he suspected of being illegal immigrants. He was waiting to be sentenced for his contempt of court conviction when Donald J. Trump intervened late this past week with his full and unconditional pardon of the former sheriff.

Furthermore, the former Maricopa County, Ariz., sheriff’s acceptance of the pardon confirms his guilt — as if it needed confirmation.

Second point: This gets more to the crux of the editorial’s misplaced ire. The AGN suggests that the judge’s ruling was dictated more by politics than the application of the law. U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton, the AGN notes, was appointed in 2000 by former President Bill Clinton. She’s a Democratic appointee; Arpaio is a Republican. Do you get it? Bolton’s decision was based on political considerations, according to the AGN. I guess I could suggest, too, that the Senate that confirmed Bolton was dominated by Republicans.

Let’s hold on here. The U.S. Constitution allows the president to make appointments to the federal judiciary. It makes no mention of partisan consideration. A judge who gets a presidential nod then is approved by the U.S. Senate. Then that judge is empowered fully to implement the law.

What the AGN has done with this argument is impugn the integrity of the federal judiciary, which is precisely what the president of the United States has done when the courts have ruled against him on other matters. He referred to a federal jurist in Washington state as a “so-called judge” when he struck down the president’s ban on Muslims traveling to the United States. He has questioned whether another federal judge could adjudicate a case involving Trump University because “he’s a Mexican.”

The AGN is now traipsing down that that dangerous path.

I don’t care if Jabba the Hut appoints federal judges. If they are qualified to serve and if the U.S. Senate signs off on the appointment, then they are given the full weight of the Constitution to do their job.

Check out the AGN editorial here.

I’ve said my piece about it. You can make up your own mind. I’m out.

‘Law and order’ boast gets doused by pardon

Donald Trump promised to be “the law-and-order president,” which harkened back to the call issued in the late 1960s by Richard Nixon’s campaign for the presidency.

The way I see it, though, Trump’s pardon of former Sheriff Joe Arpaio douses the president’s law-and-order pledge bigly.

Arpaio once served as sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz. He made a big name for himself by his tough policies on illegal immigration. He would racially profile individuals he assumed were entering the country illegally; he would detain them, often in brutal conditions.

A federal judge ordered Arpaio to cease that round-up policy. He refused. The judge put him on trial. The sheriff was convicted. Oh, and then he lost his re-election bid along the way.

How does this comport with the president’s pledge to be the law-and-order guy? It doesn’t.

The president stuck his thumb in the eye of the federal judicial system. He, in effect, said the rule of law doesn’t apply. The pardon clearly is within the president’s realm of power. Some arguing that the pardon might be illegal; I won’t go there.

A pardon’s legality doesn’t necessarily make it right. In this case, it pulls precisely against the pledge the president made to emphasize law and order.

By flouting the rule of law, therefore, the president has declared war as well on any semblance of order.

Stop the excuses for this hideous pardon, already!

I wish my friends on the right would stop diverting attention from Donald Trump’s hideous pardon of “Sheriff Joe” Arpaio.

The former Maricopa County (Ariz.) sheriff had been convicted of flouting a federal judge’s order. It was contempt of court charge. The judge ordered Arpaio to cease rounding up individuals he suspected of being illegal immigrants and then subjecting them to brutal conditions while under detention.

Arpaio thumbed his nose at the judge. He disrespected the rule of law. He said the judge’s order didn’t matter. He’d keep doing what he was ordered to cease doing.

He got convicted. He was awaiting a sentence.

Then the president intervened. He pardoned “Sheriff Joe,” reportedly without clearing it with Justice Department policies. He acted, yet again, on his own — which of course is his right; the Constitution gives the president the power to issue full and unconditional pardons.

The diversion occurs from those on the right who keep looking backward at the pardons issued by he likes of, oh, Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. I will concede that those presidents issued controversial pardons, too. They got hammered pretty damn hard for them as well. I just choose not to revisit those actions, preferring instead to focus on the here and now.

Trump’s pardon of Arpaio gives aid and comfort to those on the right and the far right who think it’s OK for law enforcement officials to rough up anyone they think is entering this country illegally.

The pardon further divides an already deeply divided nation.

The president said Arpaio was “convicted for doing his job.” That is utterly ridiculous on its face.

He was convicted because he has demonstrated zero acceptance of the rule of law. The president of the United States has just endorsed that dangerous concept.

That’s why this pardon matters.

Arpaio pardon no ‘profile in courage’

Donald John Trump Sr.’s pardon of former “Sheriff Joe” Arpaio is likely to haunt the president well beyond the foreseeable future.

Trump this week pardoned the bad-ass former Maricopa County (Ariz.) sheriff who had been convicted of contempt of court; Arpaio refused to obey a federal court order to cease rounding up people he suspected of being illegal immigrants.

Arpaio disobeyed a lawful federal order, from a duly sworn federal judge. For that, the president pardoned him. His pardon speaks to Trump’s penchant for appealing to the nation’s divisiveness.

I doubt seriously that this president is going to be honored — ever! — for this callous decision.

With that … I want to look back briefly at another presidential pardon that at the time drew enormous political push back. In the four-plus decades since, though, it has been seen as a courageous act by a president seeking to bind the wounds of a nation.

President Richard Nixon resigned his office on Aug. 9, 1974. His successor, Gerald Ford, took the oath and declared that “our long national nightmare is over.”

President Ford wasn’t quite right. A month later, the new president issued the pardon that most assuredly cost him election as president in 1976.

Many years passed and President Ford’s stature grew slowly over time. Americans who were critical of the decision to pardon President Nixon began to think differently about it. I was among those who went through a change of heart.

In 2001, the John F. Kennedy Library did something quite extraordinary. It gave President Ford its annual Profile in Courage Award, honoring the president for the courage he showed in issuing the pardon, knowing the consequences it would have, but looking out only for the national good.

As the New York Times reported at the time: “Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts told the audience at the John F. Kennedy Library: ‘I was one of those who spoke out against his action then. But time has a way of clarifying past events, and now we see that President Ford was right. His courage and dedication to our country made it possible for us to begin the process of healing and put the tragedy of Watergate behind us.”’

And this, also from the Times: “Mr. Ford said: ‘President Kennedy understood that courage is not something to be gauged in a poll or located in a focus group. No adviser can spin it. No historian can backdate it. For, in the age-old contest between popularity and principle, only those willing to lose for their convictions are deserving of posterity’s approval.”’

Time has allowed us to re-examine why President Ford acted as he did. Time also might provide us the same opportunity to take a fresh look at what Donald Trump has just done.

Then again, I doubt it. Seriously.

Unity? This is how Trump defines the term?

It’s been semi-official for some time, but I feel the need to perhaps restate the obvious.

Donald John Trump Sr. views the world from a parallel universe.

He keeps yapping about seeking “unity.” The president keeps telling us he’ll serve all the people. He keeps making promises to bind the wounds that have divided us.

Then he pardons one of U.S. law enforcement’s most controversial, polarizing and divisive figures. Yep, that would be former “Sheriff Joe” Arpaio, the ex-sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz.

Arpaio was convicted of a contempt of court charge. A federal judge ordered Arpaio to cease his roundup of illegal immigrants. The sheriff ignored the lawful order. Trump today issued the pardon while saluting Arpaio’s years as a lawman.

Arpaio’s conduct has been a graphic demonstration of racial profiling. He has sought out Latinos, arrested them and detained them simply because they look as though they’re here illegally.

The presidential pardon is just about as divisive a decision as the president could have made. He’s got his “base” of support on one side and the rest of us on the other. The “base” applauds the pardon; the rest of us are jeering it.

Unity, anyone?

Oh, and then he issued the formal order banning transgender troops from enlisting in — or serving in — the armed forces of this country. The men and women who call themselves “transgender” have served with honor, and some with distinction and heroism. To see the president order them tossed out is repugnant on its face.

How’s that for unity?

Donald Trump’s pledge to bring the nation together is now looking more like the empty gesture many of us have believed it was when first heard it in real time. He doesn’t understand how to do such a thing. Trump is not wired emotionally to carry out that serious promise.

His idiotic rant at that Phoenix rally earlier this week seemed to set the table nicely for what we are witnessing.

To think that he has done all this against the backdrop of what occurred two weekends ago in Charlottesville, Va. Go … figure.

Is any of that surprising in a man with zero public service experience — or interest — prior to his being elected to the nation’s highest office? It might be to some Americans. Not to me — or to millions of other Americans.

Trump ratchets up his disrespect for federal judiciary

Just when you thought Donald Trump couldn’t disrespect a branch of government with any more emphasis … he does exactly that very thing.

The president today has pardoned former Maricopa County (Ariz.) Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted of disobeying a direct order from a federal judge.

The judge had ordered Arpaio to stop rounding up illegal immigrants en masse, citing potential civil rights violations. Arpaio then decided he would ignore the judge’s lawful order.

Arpaio went on trial and he was convicted.

The president today intervened, issuing a presidential pardon — which is the president’s constitutional right. The pardon is irrevocable.

It’s also a gigantic mistake.

Arpaio, who was defeated for re-election in 2016, is an enormously polarizing figure. He’s long been seen by those on the right and the far right as a champion for their cause against illegal immigration. He has acted roughly and brusquely with those he has caught trying to sneak into the country. He has made no apology for the way he has handled that part of his job.

So he stuck it in the eye of the federal judiciary by refusing to abide by a court order. No worries, according to Trump — who has himself disrespected federal judges who have ruled against him on assorted judicial matters.

Trump vowed to be a “law and order president.” What the president has done with this pardon, though, is reaffirm his belief that judges’ orders don’t matter.

If I might borrow a quote from one of the president’s many tweets.

Sad.

Don’t pardon ‘Sheriff Joe,’ Mr. President

Donald John Trump Sr. offered a titillating morsel for those among his political base to chew on.

He spoke Tuesday at a campaign rally in Phoenix and said former Maricopa Sheriff Joe Arpaio is “going to be just fine.” The implication is that Trump might issue a presidential pardon for “Sheriff Joe.” 

Arpaio has been convicted of ignoring a court order that demanded he stop conducting an “immigration roundup” that sought to locate illegal immigrants sneaking into the United States.

I hope the president forgoes a pardon for Arpaio. A friend of mine who happens to be a former prosecutor in Amarillo said this regarding a potential pardon for the fiery former sheriff:

“A pardon for a criminal conviction is supposed to take into account some equitable or humanitarian reason to remove the conviction. A pardon for someone who knowingly violated a federal court order and is being held in contempt is in my view worse. It sends a message that the judiciary is not to be honored. A dangerous precedent, and a slap in the face to the alleged sheriff’s victims.”

Amen to that.

Then again, the president has demonstrated already a penchant for dishonoring the judiciary … such as when he questioned whether a federal judge could adjudicate a case involving Trump University “because he’s a Mexican”; the judge, by the way, was born in Indiana to Mexican-American parents. Or when he referred to a “so-called judge” who struck down Trump’s ban on Muslims entering the United States.

Trump said Arpaio was convicted of “doing his job.” The crowd in Phoenix roared.

Actually, Mr. President, “Sheriff Joe” was convicted of ignoring what a judge told him to do. We are, after all, a nation of laws.

Isn’t that right?

Not much peace and harmony in that speech

That didn’t last long, not that anyone really and truly anticipated it would.

Donald John Trump Sr. spoke briefly on Monday about the need for America to heel the wounds that divide it, about how returning heroes fighting overseas to defend us need to return to a country where all Americans love each other.

Then came last night’s campaign rally. The president donned the brass knuckles yet again and tore into: The media, critics of his responses to the Charlottesville riot, the two U.S. senators from Arizona, those who oppose his efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Democrats in general, key congressional Republicans.

He tossed in a few insults along the way. Yes, the president reverted to form. Trump showed us once again — as if we needed reminding — that his version of “acting presidential” bears zero resemblance to what the rest of the nation understands that term to mean.

I’ll give him a sliver of credit at least for declining to pardon one of the nation’s most divisive lawmen, former Maricopa County “Sheriff Joe” Arpaio, who has been convicted in connection to his harsh treatment of illegal immigrants. Trump, though, did seemingly imply that a pardon was pending; so, we’ll just have to wait for that act to puncture the national mood with even more collateral damage.

Another bit of good news? No one was seriously injured outside the hall during the protests that were mounted against Trump’s speech.

We’re only seven or so months into Trump’s term as president. We have three more years — maybe — remaining before the next presidential election cycle.

Acting “presidential” used to mean that our head of state lifted our spirits, comforted us in times of trouble and appealed to our higher ideals.

Those moments are gone — at least for as long as Donald Trump occupies the Big Office in the White House.