Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio was all but promised a presidential pardon at President Donald Trump’s controversial Phoenix campaign rally Tuesday evening. Wednesday morning, “Sheriff Joe” publicly thanked conspiracy theorist Alex Jones for keeping him out of jail.
“I want to thank you, Alex, and your staff, Jerry Corsi, Roger Stone, for bringing this story out and reaching the president. I supported him from, what, two years ago at the same forum that he did yesterday and I’m with him and I’m with him to the end,” Arpaio began his remarks with Jones, according to a transcript compiled by Media Matters.
In a tease of the interview, Jones gave more background on the exact details that allegedly led to the expected pardon.
“It’s Dr. Corsi writing the articles, and it’s Matt Drudge picked him up, and the president saw it in Matt Drudge’s Twitter feed, and then said, ‘Is this true? I haven’t even heard of this on Fox.’ And he called [Sean] Hannity up, and said, ‘Why aren’t you covering this?’” Jones claimed.
Arpaio is scheduled to be sentenced on October 5 after being found guilty of contempt of court in a racial profiling case.
“I’ll make a prediction,” Trump said of Arpaio in his speech. “I think he’s going to be just fine.”
Jones asked Arpaio if he would consider joining the Trump Administration.
“If he called me, it would be very difficult for me to turn him down because I will do anything to help him out,” Arpaio pledged.
He just basically said he'll pardon Arpaio but not tonight. That Arpaio was just doing his job. This is beyond the pale.
— Vanita Gupta (@vanitaguptaCR) August 23, 2017
"Was Sheriff Joe convicted for doing his job?" No, he was convicted for violating court order for discriminating against Latinos.
— ACLU National (@ACLU) August 23, 2017
Also on Wednesday, a Harvard Law professor wrote that pardoning Arpaio would be an impeachable offense.
“This is the crime that Trump is suggesting he might pardon: willful defiance of a federal judge’s lawful order to enforce the Constitution,” explained Prof. Noah Feldman. “Such a pardon would reflect outright contempt for the judiciary, which convicted Arpaio for his resistance to its authority. Trump has questioned judges’ motives and decisions, but this would be a further, more radical step in his attack on the independent constitutional authority of Article III judges.
“An Arpaio pardon would express presidential contempt for the Constitution,” Prof. Feldman continued. “From this analysis it follows directly that pardoning Arpaio would be a wrongful act under the Constitution.”
“The Constitution isn’t perfect. It offers only one remedy for a president who abuses the pardon power to break the system itself. That remedy is impeachment,” Prof. Feldman concluded. “James Madison noted at the Virginia ratifying convention that abuse of the pardon power could be grounds for impeachment. He was correct then — and it’s still true now.”