Los Angeles, CA – Please attribute the following statement on Donald J. Trump’s visit to Arizona, and reports that he is considering a presidential pardon of disgraced former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio to Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund): “If Donald Trump were to pardon the infamous Joe Arpaio today, it would be the most naked pander to a shrinking and dubious political ‘base’ since… well, last Tuesday. Any presidential pardon is completely premature for the following reasons:
- Arpaio has not been sentenced yet; indeed, no sentencing recommendation has been made yet. His sentencing is not scheduled until October 5; until then, no one knows whether his advanced age will spare him any real punishment.
- Although he continues to protest innocence, Arpaio has yet to convince any judge that his very public defiance of a federal court was false bravado, rather than a real indication of what he was directing his deputies to do. Still, Arpaio should have the chance to try to prove his incredible claims of innocence through an appeal in the federal court system.
- While his criminal violation was rooted in his racial profiling of the Latino community, Arpaio’s actual contempt conviction was for blatant defiance of a federal court order. In other words, a pardon would negate the unappealed conviction of an elected law enforcement chief for ignoring the rule of law, at the very same time the administration continues to portray even minor and inchoate misdemeanors as rendering immigrants ‘criminal.’
In short, a presidential pardon before sentencing and appeal would be premature and gratuitous – a clear attempt to rally a ‘base’ in support of lawlessness and badged vigilantism in defiance of courts and judges. In this case, of course, it perverts a venerable executive power to grant such an undeserved presidential pardon.”