I would prefer not to keep talking about the Joe Arpaio pardon, but the news media and the “resistance” won’t let the pardon go, because in the absence of anything legitimate giving them cause to scream for an impeachment, they have to latch on to whatever they can. So this is a Popeye: I’m writing it because, as the spinach-living cartoon sailor would say, “That’s all I can stands, cuz I can’t stands no more!”
Oh, before I forget: here’s what the Southern Poverty Law Center says about the pardon:
“By pardoning Joe Arpaio, President Trump has demonstrated his contempt for the rule of law and the racism at the core of his agenda. Arpaio, a Trump favorite on the campaign trail, is the former sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona. He was convicted of criminal contempt of court for intentionally violating a federal court order prohibiting racial profiling. As a result of President Trump’s pardon, Arpaio will never be held accountable for his unconstitutional conduct.”
Following this logic, by pardoning drug dealers President Obama proved that at heart, he is a drug dealer. By pardoning Chelsea Manning, President Obama proved that sharing classified information with our enemies is at the core of his agenda. This is a “law center” including such tripe on its website? It sounds like the legally ignorant accusation often made against defense lawyers (like Hillary Clinton) that they endorse the crimes, motives and values of their clients.
In a front page article on Sunday, the New York Times tried to break its own record for desperately trying to make a case for Presidential wrongdoing while still stating the undeniable fact that no wrongdoing had occurred:
- The Times states, correctly, “that there is nothing in the text of the Constitution’s pardons clause to suggest that [Trump] exceeded his authority.” But it tracks down yet another law professor who has allowed the anti-Trump brain virus to swallow his integrity. Noah Feldman, a law professor at Harvard, claimed that pardoning Arpaio “would express presidential contempt for the Constitution.”
Good thinking. The President expressed contempt for the Constitution by engaging in an action described and enacted in the Constitution. A better argument, though still unfair, would be that President Obama was expressing contempt for the Constitution by not using its pardon power provision even once within his first 400 days in office.
- More from the Professor: “Arpaio didn’t just violate a law passed by Congress…His actions defied the Constitution itself, the bedrock of the entire system of government.” Yes, and so what? If that same document gives the President an open-ended power to forgive any crime, and it does, then this is just huffing and puffing.
All Feldman is saying is that he doesn’t believe that Arpaio’s particular crime should be pardoned. When you’re President, Professor, by all means let that standard be your guide.
- By saying Mr. Arpaio’s offense was forgivable, Professor Feldman added, Mr. Trump threatens “the very structure on which his right to pardon is based.”
Note to Professor Feldman: Get help. The reason the President has unlimited pardon power is because, in the view of the Constitution’s authors, any offense IS forgivable. Presidents have pardoned traitors, those who have killed American citizens. They have pardoned terrorists, and a President of the United States who plotted to subvert justice and our democracy itself. No Harvard Law professor has made the claim that any of those offenses were unpardonable (that is, literally, unforgivable). Why is that? Well, a) Trump is special and doesn’t deserves to be judged by the same standards as other Presidents, and b) the Left hates Arpaio beyond all proportion, because of his opposition to illegal immigration.
- The Times writes, “It was the first act of outright defiance against the judiciary by a president who has not been shy about criticizing federal judges who ruled against his businesses and policies.” If this pardon is “outright defiance against the judiciary,” then most pardons are. Almost all pardons erase a judicial sentence or verdict.
This is misleading, biased, inflammatory, unethical journalism.
- The Times writes,
“Mr. Trump could pardon any of the subjects of the special counsel’s Russia inquiry, though some legal specialists believe he could increase his risk of prosecution if he is seen as abusing his pardon power.Were Mr. Trump to announce that he has pardoned himself, impeachment would remain possible. A prosecutor might also test the limits of the pardon power by indicting Mr. Trump notwithstanding such an announcement. That clash could lead the Supreme Court to weigh in on the limits of the president’s power to spare himself from punishment for criminal wrongdoing.”
This story has nothing to do with impeachment! No evidence has been found that suggests the President has committed any impeachable acts. The Times story is about the Joe Arpaio pardon. How can the Times justify suddenly piling tangential hypothetical on top of tangential hypotheticals in this article to get to a scenario where the Supreme Court has to determine whether President Trump can pardon himself for crimes as yet unalleged and undiscovered? Well, the reporter is Adam Liptak, the epitome of what Instapundit calls “Democratic operatives with bylines.” He’s not reporting here; he’s promoting a nakedly partisan narrative.
- Here was my favorite part:
Most presidents wait for the waning days of their administrations to issue high-profile pardons of associates and supporters. President George Bush was about to leave office in 1992 when he pardoned Caspar W. Weinberger, a former defense secretary, for his role in the Iran-contra affair. President Bill Clinton, too, was almost out the door in 2001 when he pardoned Marc Rich, a fugitive financier whose former wife had donated to the Democratic Party and the Clinton library foundation.
Mr. Trump took a different approach. The Arpaio pardon was the first of his presidency.
How dare President Trump break with the tradition by not delivering the most controversial pardons while sneaking out the back door! Whatever one thinks of the pardon (it was a bad one), Trump deserves praise for not emulating Bush and Clinton (and Obama, who also made his most controversial pardons and commutations in his waning hours in office.).
- Liptak misleadingly quotes the The Justice Department’s Office of the Pardon Attorney, which typically makes pardon recommendations, noting its process for considering pardon applications.
It generally requires a five-year waiting period, the office’s application instructions say, “to afford the petitioner a reasonable period of time in which to demonstrate an ability to lead a responsible, productive and law-abiding life.”
The department, moreover, usually recommends pardons only after an expression of remorse.
“A presidential pardon is ordinarily a sign of forgiveness,” the instructions say. “A pardon is not a sign of vindication and does not connote or establish innocence. For that reason, when considering the merits of a pardon petition, pardon officials take into account the petitioner’s acceptance of responsibility, remorse and atonement for the offense.”
But this is not the law. This is existing policy for sorting through pardon and commutation requests. The President is not bound by the policy. Pardon power resides within the office of the Presidency, and while it is pragmatic and reasonable to have an office to vet potential pardon cases–the President doesn’t have time to do it—the law does not require such a process, and the President is not neither ethicaly nor legally required to follow it in all cases or any cases. That “pardon officials” use the stated criteria, the President doesn’t have to, and past Presidents have not done so in the past. Richard Nixon, pardoned by President Fort, was never remorseful, and in fact insisted to his dying day that he did nothing illegal or wrong. That did not make Ford’s pardon illegal or unethical
- Finally, the Times editors allow this speculative and misleading junk to sneak into the article:
Other responses to pardons are at least theoretically possible. One is political: Voters can punish presidents seeking re-election for pardons thought to be an abuse of power, as Mr. Ford learned. And presidents are subject to impeachment for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”
Nobody knows whether Gerald Ford’s pardon was the reason he lost to Jimmy Carter in the close 1976 race. There were so many other reasons. Some think the pardon gained Ford votes, since it spared a nation already sick of Watergate and traumatized by an extended crisis another long dose of Watergate misery. Personally, I was amazed Ford didn’t lose by a landslide: he was the only un-elected President since Washington to run for re-election (he had been appointed Vice President); he was a bland, uninspiring leader; the economy was a mess; he was gaffe-prone; and he made the head-exploding blunder in the debate with Carter of claiming that Poland wasn’t an Iron Curtain country. Liptak stating that Ford was punished for the pardon is stating speculation as fact.
Then back to impeachment. Once again, “the resistance” argues that President Trump can be legitimately impeached for doing what the Constitution and the law permits him to do.