As if oblivious to the criticisms of his many racially-charged proclamations, Donald Trump this week decided to go all-out in appealing to his base, by coming to the defence of Joe Arpaio, who has just been convicted of focusing on Latinos as part of his anti-drug war in Arizona. You might have seen this guy before if you’ve watched the Penn & Teller Bullshit episode which focused on the topic of drug use and sentencing.
Speaking at yet another rally (something not typical of presidents, and more akin to a dictatorship), the beleaguered leader claimed that he would fight the corner of the racist sheriff, apparently for no reason other than him being a white guy discriminating against a group disliked by Trump:
“Was Sheriff Joe convicted for doing his job? He should have had a jury, but you know what? I’ll make a prediction. I think he’s going to be just fine. Okay? But I won’t do it tonight because I don’t want to cause any controversy is that okay? Alright. But Sheriff Joe should feel good.”
What makes the whole thing even more sickening is that the people of Arizona have had to cover legal costs, to the tune of $56m, according to AZ Central:
“Taxpayers have forked over nearly $56 million since 2007 to pay Maricopa County’s costs in the ongoing racial-profiling lawsuit against former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the latest county totals show.
A federal judge last year held Arpaio in contempt of court and recommended criminal contempt charges against him for ignoring the court’s order to stop his office’s immigration patrols.
The case began in 2007 when Manuel de Jesus Ortega Melendres, a Mexican tourist legally in the U.S., was stopped outside a Cave Creek church where day laborers were known to gather. Melendres, a passenger in a car driven by a white driver, claimed that deputies detained him for nine hours and that the detention was unlawful.
Eventually, the case grew to include the complaints of two Hispanic siblings from Chicago who felt they were profiled by sheriff’s deputies, and an assistant to former Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, whose Hispanic husband claimed he was detained and cited while white motorists nearby were treated differently.”
While the above makes for depressing reading, there’s quite an amusing silver lining to all this. You see, the president doesn’t actually have the power to pardon Arpaio. In yet another cringeworthy display of his lack of political astuteness, Trump seems to be unaware of the base requirements for a pardon, namely; A) the convicted party must show regret and admit fault, and B) the offender must have served five years in prison. Although Arpaio hasn’t been sentenced, the guidelines suggest that he should expect a sentence of six months. Not only does he fail point B, but point A isn’t satisfied either, as Arpaio is contesting the decision, and refuses to admit guilt. I’ve included below a segment from The Young Turks, where they discuss the idiocy of his comments in all their glory.
That just leaves the question – why did he make the comments? There are arguments that he simply didn’t know the law, but equally worth considering is that he might think his audience is also ignorant of the facts. At a Trump rally people are only interested in hearing slogans and strongman talk, and time after time his supporters have shown little regard for the facts. As he himself put it:
“I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters”