Trump’s pardoning of Joe Arpaio, even though it was announced and expected, sent shockwaves across the U.S. and the world.
In Phoenix, more than 150 lawyers, who for the most part do not organize protests as a group, got together in front of a federal courthouse to voice their rejection of what they called “an abuse of the Constitution.”
“This is a case study in abuse of power and willful contempt of court orders,” said Noel Fidel, a former presiding judge of the Maricopa County Superior Court.
They are not alone. National newspapers and magazines published op-eds expressing dismay for this affront to the judiciary.
According to a poll by NBC News conducted just after the pardon, a majority of people say “President Trump did the wrong thing in granting Arizona’s former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio a pardon.”
Trump may say the move is very popular, but the poll found that 60 percent of voters said Mr. Trump did the wrong thing, 34 percent said he did the right thing and 6 percent gave no answer.
The poll surveyed 10,219 adults between August 24 and 29 and had a 1.4 percentage point margin of error.
Even the conservative National Review, a political commentary publication, expressed their displeasure about the pardon, calling it “Unmerited, Unnecessary, Impulsive.”
Describing the reasoning, Andrew C. McCarthy mentions that the pardon was premature and “rash” since the judicial process has not even finished; Arpaio was supposed to be sentenced on October 5.
Also, the appeal process was not set in motion. Arpaio was entitled to appeal all the way to the Supreme Court.
An important element of the pardoning process is the expression of contrition by the convicted criminal, and therefore a five-year period of waiting before pardoning is necessary.
We know Arpaio feels no remorse but instead defiance to the court orders and the judges.
According to the analysis, Trump could have commuted the sentence (shortened it, as in the case of Chelsea Manning, for example). But by choosing to pardon, Trump became part of the same contempt of court Arpaio was accused of exhibiting.
“A full pardon… extinguishes the wrong. It puts Trump in the position of endorsing Arpaio’s misconduct – a law officer’s arrogant defiance of lawful court orders, which themselves were issued as a result of judicial findings that Arpaio discriminated against Latinos in conducting unlawful arrests,” says McCarthy.
And that is not good news for a president… or the country.