According to CNN, the speculation over whether Donald Trump will pardon former Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff Joe Arpaio is all but over. According to the network, the White House has prepared the paperwork necessary for a presidential pardon and prepared talking points to send out to surrogates once the pardon has been granted.
Arpaio was found guilty last month of criminal contempt for disobeying a court order in a racial profiling case. As things stand, he is scheduled to be sentenced on October 5.
CBS News reports that “sources involved in the process” say that the president has been advised against pardoning the sheriff, though in the following paragraph the network’s Major Garrett writes:
As a legal matter, White House lawyers believe the contempt charge is reversible because, they say, the federal court order Arpaio ignored — which served as the basis for the contempt charge — is unconstitutional. The federal court said in 2016 Arpaio’s policy of using traffic stops and workplace raids to find suspected undocumented immigrants constituted racial profiling.
But another attorney, former California attorney general and current U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris , offers another theory of the case. Harris, a rising star in the Democratic Party who some see as the Donks’ 2020 presidential candidate, tweeted out yesterday:
Joe Arpaio was convicted because he committed a crime. He should not be pardoned. https://t.co/YGvQkK6Kae
— Kamala Harris (@SenKamalaHarris) August 23, 2017
This is breathtakingly naïve statement coming from a former AG. Harris must be aware that contempt charges are relatively low down in the hierarchy of criminal acts. A far more serious crime, for example, would be conspiracy to possess cocaine with intent to distribute. That was the crime of which Michael John Petri was found guilty in 1989 and sentenced to five years in a federal penitentiary. His name is probably not familiar, but Petri was one of the dozens of people who had “committed a crime” who were pardoned by Barack Obama.
Other people pardoned by Obama despite having had “committed a crime” include at least four men who were serving life sentences. All had been convicted for crimes relating to cocaine distribution, which in the view of Obama was no reason to clutter America’s prisons. But the fact remains that virtually everyone pardoned by a past president of the United States had committed a crime.
Here’s hoping that voters take into consideration Harris’s remark when evaluating her qualifications as president.