Political Editors / August 28, 2017

Justice for Sheriff Arpaio

The president wanted to clear an ally in the immigration battle — an ally taken down in a witch hunt.

President Donald Trump on Friday pardoned former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the long-serving Arizona lawman famous for his tough stance against illegal immigration. Trump tweeted, “I am pleased to inform you that I have just granted a full Pardon to 85 year old American patriot Sheriff Joe Arpaio. He kept Arizona safe!” Arpaio had been recently found guilty of contempt of court charges for disregarding a judge’s orders. Several Republicans criticized Trump’s decision, including both of Arizona’s senators, John McCain and Jeff Flake, who no doubt are making their own political calculations.

But Republicans criticized Trump’s pardon over concerns that it seems to contradict Trump’s law-and-order platform. House Speaker Paul Ryan’s spokesman, Doug Andres, said, “The speaker does not agree with the decision. Law-enforcement officials have a special responsibility to respect the rights of everyone in the United States. We should not allow anyone to believe that responsibility is diminished by this pardon.”

Arpaio may have crossed the line disregarding the court order, and his tactics of enforcement were at least arguable. But there is little doubt that the prosecution of Arpaio was a political witch hunt. The Left had been seeking to take him down for years, with the American Civil Liberties Union suing Arpaio in 2008 for racial profiling. After years of litigation, Arpaio’s department was exonerated, yet the Left was successful in sticking a contempt of court ruling against him. In any case, he lost his last re-election bid.

Trump saw the prosecution of Arpaio for what it was — an attempt to take down a prolific conservative lawman. There is little to support the notion that Arpaio was corrupt. He was simply a hard-nosed sheriff who worked to deal with one of the biggest problems of lawlessness in his county, illegal immigration. Trump simply sought to make things right, something George W. Bush failed to do after the Left took down Scooter Libby during the whole Valerie Plame affair.

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