Timing is everything to this White House that has become expert at the art of the news dump—releasing all the bad news late on Friday. Saving it up for a batch release poses a space issue for newspapers (and television) as they only have a finite amount of prime space to fill. The more stories there are, the smaller each will be because of space constraints.
Hence the announcements yesterday of: 1) Trump’s Presidential pardon of the yet-to-be-sentenced 85-year old Sheriff Joe Arpaio and 2) the forced resignation (firing?) of Sebastian Gorka, Trump’s combative counterterrorism advisor. Coincidentally, news came that special prosecutor Robert Mueller had issued subpoenas for some individuals to appear before the grand jury investigation of Russian involvement in the Presidential elections and related discoveries. Then, let’s not forget that simultaneously, Hurricane Harvey, a category 4 storm packing deadly forces of 125+ mph winds and potentially 3 feet of rain was at the precipice of making landfall in Texas. Millions of lives will be affected by the destruction.
All in all, a perfect storm for the White House to dump controversial news of Trump’s first use of the Presidential pardon. Killing several birds with this seemingly absolute power, the President sent an unmistakable message to the Judiciary—you do your thing and I’ll reverse it if I want! Maricopa County’s Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a friend and Trump acolyte had “flouted the Constitution, disobeyed court orders and bragged about it [CNN source].” A Federal judge found him guilty of contempt when he disobeyed the court’s orders as he continued to target and illegally detain (without charges), drivers who were immigrants, especially Latinos for decades.
Vanita Gupta, president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said the President’s pardon would excuse Apraio’s “racist and illegal policing.” Gupta, a former head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division in the Obama administration, said in a statement, “If President Trump uses his power to pardon a discredited law enforcement official who persistently engaged in racial profiling of the Latino community, it will not be a dog whistle to the so-called ‘alt right’ and white supremacists, but a bullhorn.” [CNN Politics].
This “law and order” President is anything but law or order. His disdain for the courts might come from having to litigate thousands of lawsuits for decades arising from his colorful and questionable business deals. He has no respect for Federal judges, elected officials or anyone else. Everyone is free game and a potential target for The Donald to take out. Now, armed with the Presidential pardon, it is his law that he will arbitrarily apply. It is yet another step toward autocracy.