The Washington Post reports that Donald Trump’s pardon of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, convicted of illegally profiling if he suspected them to be undocumented immigrants, was apparently in the works for several months.
In fact, much like his now infamous request to former FBI Director James Comey to drop an investigation against former National Security Director Mike Flynn, Trump apparently asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions if there was a way to simply drop the case against Arpaio.
The president asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions whether it would be possible for the government to drop the criminal case against Arpaio, but was advised that would be inappropriate, according to three people with knowledge of the conversation.
After talking with Sessions, Trump decided to let the case go to trial, and if Arpaio was convicted, he could grant clemency.
So the president waited, all the while planning to issue a pardon if Arpaio was found in contempt of court for defying a federal judge’s order to stop detaining people merely because he suspected them of being undocumented immigrants. Trump was, in the words of one associate, “gung-ho about it.”
“We knew the president wanted to do this for some time now and had worked to prepare for whenever the moment may come,” said one White House official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the action.
Many pundits feel the pardon was also a warning from Trump to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s current investigation into last year’s election. Several in the political world say it is Trump’s hint that he will pardon anyone (Paul Manafort, Mike Flynn) who might be caught up in the investigation. That message could embolden those folks to just refuse to cooperate with Mueller since Trump could come to their rescue.
Trump supporter @donsurber sees Arpaio pardon as clear signal POTUS will pardon folks found guilty in Mueller probe https://t.co/PkYguf8Z3f
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) August 26, 2017
#ArpaioPardon served several purposes for Trump. Among them, it sent a message to Flynn & Manafort. Great piece. ⬇️https://t.co/M7X5ScVLpt pic.twitter.com/i2fGK726Bv
— Matt Scharfstein🇺🇸 (@MattAsherS) August 26, 2017