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Trump Flouts Rule of Law

The Pardon

We need to be very concerned. My clarion call is not hyperbole. We are now looking at President Trump no longer hinting at flouting the rule of law, but actually legitimizing Mr. Arpaio's willingness to defy a Federal Court Order while couching Mr. Arpaio's situation as a witch hunt.

President Trump has used this "witch hunt" label as a broad stroke in painting Mr. Arpaio a "victim." Mr. Arpaio's actions cannot be minimized in one small capsule. Let's see who Trump pardoned.

Mr. Arpaio was elected sheriff of Maricopa County in 1992 and subsequently reelected every 4 years until 2016 when he lost to retired Phoenix police Sgt. Paul Penzone. As Sheriff, Mr. Arpaio: authorized the use of "food rescue" for inmates, he created Tent City confinements, he re-instituted chain gangs, he was cited in two separate court cases that he ran a jail where a culture of cruelty existed, he was cited in 2010 by Judge John S. Leonardo of having abused his power, under his power as sheriff he had two journalists arrested for having published an article regarding a grand jury investigation involving Mr. Arpaio's office, he helped stage an assassination plot, and he ethnically profiled Latinos under the auspices of immigration control. The last of which the uproar of the pardon centers.

In 2011, a federal court ordered Mr. Arpaio to stop detaining people who were merely suspected as non-citizens. He rounded up Latinos, irrespective of their citizenship or having any reasonable suspicion of criminality. This was a FEDERAL COURT ORDER. People are routinely arrested for violating city or state court orders, but here we have a Federal Court Order openly violated by Mr. Arpaio, apparently without consequence.

Just like Trump, Mr. Arpaio's own words were his own downfall.

"After [the Justice Department] went after me, we arrested 500 more just for spite," Mr. Arpaio told supporters in Houston.

There were other instances where Mr. Arpaio stated clear knowledge of the law, clear knowledge of the court order, and clear intent to defy the order. Mr. Arpaio’s quotes were cited more than 20 times in the federal judge's ruling that found him guilty of criminal contempt of court.

“Credible testimony shows that the Defendant knew of the order and what the order meant in regards to the MCSO’s policy of detaining persons who did not have state charges for turnover to ICE for civil immigration violations,” the contempt ruling read.

“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.’”

Our country is this world's best example of law rising above politics. Law and rules of procedures govern to save the one innocent person. Our rule of law is what holds up as different from other countries. There is no nationality but the American nationality where law governs. In 1917, President Wilson hesitated going to war because of the varied nationalities living in the United States. He pondered whether they would go AWOL if confronted with a fellow countryman. Those concerns were short lived because the United States stood for a country that hated tyranny. We have always hated anyone who tries to rise above the law as if those tentacles of justice could not touch him or her.

Those tentacles of true law and order somehow always reach their target.

This pardon has done something different. We all kind of feel it. Trump may have the authority to grant pardons, but something does not feel right about it. Anyone seeking pardons usually waits at least five years after conviction. Clemency is granted after having demonstrated remorse and regret for said actions. Ford's pardon of Nixon was used to close a chapter and allow our country to move on.

A presidential act of mercy should correct some past injustice or oversight, or serve some greater public good. Trump has used the pardon power as a political tool, which he may use again if left unchecked. Political talk pundits muse over various speculative intents. Whatever the rationale, one thing is certain: Trump has justified the violation of court orders. Words of unity ring hollow when, within the same breath, clemency is granted for one who never made such a request. One who truly never deserved it. The sentencing phase would have begun on Oct. 5. Mr. Arpaio, 85, would have faced up to six months in confinement, a sentence equivalent to that of a misdemeanor. He will never feel the treatment he made others endure, particularly those who were not guilty of anything other than having been born with a darker skin with a desire to do better for their family.

Justice is not so blind anymore.

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