This might be mixing metaphors, but the “law and order” president is proving to be all hat and no cattle.
Donald Trump today has pardon two men who took over a public wildlife refuge in Oregon, creating a standoff. They were convicted of a felony, sentenced to prison and now the president has commuted their sentence.
According to CNN.com: Dwight Hammond Jr. and his son Steven Hammond were granted executive grants of clemency by Trump, according to a White House statement. The father-son duo are cattle ranchers and were convicted in 2012 of committing arson on federal lands in Oregon.
“Justice is overdue for Dwight and Steven Hammond, both of whom are entirely deserving of these Grants of Executive Clemency,” the statement read.
The Trump White House took aim at the Obama administration as well, adding that it filed an “overzealous appeal” that led to the two men’s five-year prison sentence: “This was unjust.”
These clowns destroyed public property. Their sentence wasn’t “unjust.” Their arrest then prompted the standoff in the Steens Mountain area of eastern Oregon at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
Yep, the “law and order” president keeps demonstrating his belief in the “rule of law.” Such as when he pardoned former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio after he had been convicted of violating a federal court order requiring him to stop profiling Hispanics in some attempt to curb illegal immigration.
Arpaio hadn’t even been sentenced for the felony, but he got a pardon anyway. Then the vice president, Mike Pence, praised Arpaio for standing up for the “rule of law.”
The president doesn’t believe in “law and order.” He believes in appeasing his political base. That’s what he did with this latest 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.
I can’t take credit for posing this question, but I’ll pass it on here.
How does a “law and order” candidate for president of the United States fail to appoint a single federal prosecutor after firing all of those who hadn’t resigned already when he took office?
The question comes from the New York Times editorial board.
Donald Trump got elected president partly on his pledge to battle international terrorism. He vowed to combat the “scourge” of drugs. He promised to prosecute and deport immigrants who are here illegally. Who, then, carries the president’s agenda forward? It would be the federal attorneys assigned to represent judicial districts throughout the nation.
As the Times editorial notes: “United States attorneys are responsible for prosecuting terrorism offenses, serious financial fraud, public corruption, crimes related to gang activity, drug trafficking and all other federal crimes.”
They aren’t on the job. Trump emptied all their offices. He’s been busy with, um, other matters related perhaps to the “Russia thing” that just won’t go away.
The Times does posit a possible reason for the president’s inability to find prosecutors: “It’s possible that Mr. Trump is having a hard time luring competent, experienced candidates to work for an administration mired in perpetual chaos and widening scandal. Since Mr. Trump considers loyalty the highest qualification for federal office, that might be. But United States attorney is a highly coveted job under any president, and there should be no shortage of people eager to be considered.”
But … who out there would be “eager to be considered” for a job in a judicial system that isn’t working?