"Hey! If I wanna pardon my favorite butt kisser during a Cat 4 hurricane that's my business. I'm king of this country, yuh know!"
Let us note in passing that most criminal dictators in banana republics always pass their most odious dictates or mandates - or pardons (for fellow swine) - in the middle of the night or during catastrophes. In this sense the Swine-in-chief Trump followed suit last night in pardoning Joe Arpaio. Not only doing it while the nation was distracted by a major hurricane bearing down on Texas Gulf coast, but before the legal process itself had played out.
It is true that a presidential pardon is "absolute" but not true - as Trump will learn - that is has no consequences. In this sense, Trump has again cast presidential norms and standards aside since every other U.S. president has only used it AFTER the criminal process unfolds. To do so pre-emptively is to circumvent the criminal justice process, to make a mockery of it. Showing once more Trump has zero respect for any institutions that would hold him in check. No, this asshole wants absolute power.
Almost as bad is the sheer cynicism of the timing: Trump using the onset of the most dangerous hurricane in 12 years to unveil the pardon of ex-Sherriff Joe Arpaio, and in so doing very clearly flouting the criminal justice process. It sends a message to sheriffs and law enforcement officials - who may be found in violation of laws by judges - Trump has you back if said violations are about cracking down on immigrants.
So two things to understand:
- Formally his pardon is constitutional in the sense in the sense the Constitution gives a president this unilateral power. But that power was granted under the expectation it would be used with discretion - not as a "gift" to a butt kisser. (Arpaio was one of Drumpf's biggest cheerleaders and ass kissers during the '16 campaign.)
- Hence, given the latter part of the above is true, it is deliberately undermining the law itself in the sense that deploying the pardon power to side with a local sheriff over a judge - before the criminal justice process is even complete - undermines the particular law being enforced.
Former White House Counsel Bob Bauer observed last night, after the pardon:
"It's constitutional in one sense but it will turn out to be very consequential in another. It is not a free pass for him.
As for whether the formal pardon review process was followed, there is no indication of that at all. There is no indication in his statement, for example, that he had a recommendation from the Department of Justice.
It is also highly abnormal he reviewed the ground for pardon at a political rally, talking about this pardon as an act that should be 'particularly interesting to the 'people in this room'. From there all the way to the release this evening I can't remember any exercise of the pardon power that is anything like this."
More worrisome, Bauer noted Trump may be communicating to prosecutors - using this pardon - that he isn't bothered by potential indictments - say for obstruction of justice. But as Bauer also pointed out, this "will not serve him well" when Bob Mueller and others are contemplating his motives.
In other words, assorted scofflaws across the nation, those who prize bending and breaking the law using badges - as well as inveterate Trumpies - will no doubt be delirious at Trump's pardon. For the rest of us it is another nail in the coffin of our democracy or what's left of it. The moral of the story in this case is just because pardon power is designated "absolute" doesn't mean it can never be abused - and Trump has emphatically abused his.
See also this essay on why Trump's pardon may precipitate a constitutional crisis:
"Here is the most logical way to view his pardon of Sheriff Arpaio: It is the latest and gravest step he has taken in his continuing efforts to undermine the rule of law. Obviously Trump delighted in fueling the racism of Arpaio’s supporters by pardoning this convicted criminal — he made that clear earlier this week during his repellent speech in Phoenix. But I am certain that is not the main reason for this heinous act.
For many weeks, Washington has been swirling with rumors that Mueller already has secured the cooperation of Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort in his investigation of the president. And Trump undoubtedly is more vulnerable to the testimony of these two men than he is to that of any other players in this fearful drama. Therefore, Trump must feel compelled to send this message through Arpaio’s pardon: The president is eager and willing to do the same thing for anyone who might be pressured into testifying against him."