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Writers on the Right and Left on Trump’s Pardon of Joe Arpaio


Read about how the other side thinks, with opinions from across the political spectrum on President Trump’s pardon of the former Maricopa County, Ariz., sheriff.
The political news cycle is fast, and keeping up can be overwhelming. Trying to find differing perspectives worth your time is even harder. That’s why we have scoured the internet for political writing from the right and left that you might not have seen.
Has this series exposed you to new ideas? Tell us how. Email us at ourpicks@nytimes.com .
For an archive of all the Partisan Writing Roundups, check out Our Picks .
Jon Gabriel in USA Today:
“I’ m a conservative Maricopa County resident who has lived under Arpaio throughout his decades-long reign. Arpaio was never a conservative; he just played one on TV.”
Mr. Gabriel writes that he saw former Sheriff Joe Arpaio ’s “love of racial profiling firsthand, ” on his daily commute through the Hispanic town of Guadalupe, Ariz. “Being Caucasian, I was always waved through. The drivers ahead and behind me weren’ t so lucky.” Read more »
Noah Rothman in Commentary:
“The late Friday night pardoning of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has the potential to reverberate in a way few Republicans are able to envision.”
An unintended consequence of the president’s pardon of Mr. Arpaio, argues Mr. Rothman, will be a boon for a liberal critique of the Republican Party. The Trump administration’s “transgressive racial politics” validate the left’s attempts to “tar boilerplate conservatism with the stain of bigotry.” Mr. Rothman is unequivocal about the politics behind the move: “This is no dog whistle. It’s a foghorn.” Read more »
James Fotis in Fox News:
“Under his command, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office boasted the highest percentage of Hispanic deputies, detention officers and staff in the state of Arizona. Moreover, he promoted more Hispanic officers to command positions than any other law enforcement agency in the state.”
Mr. Fotis runs the National Center for Police Defense, a nonprofit that provides legal assistance to law enforcement and contributed to Mr. Arpaio’s defense. He argues that federal judge’s verdict holding Mr. Arpaio in contempt of court was a “travesty of justice” and “politically motivated from the beginning.” He goes on to defend Mr. Arpaio against accusations of racism, noting that the former sheriff has “two grandchildren who are of Hispanic descent.” Read more »
The editorial board of the Washington Examiner:
“In this case, it’s clear Trump has abused that power for a friend and political ally.”
The editors of the conservative Washington Examiner use President Trump’s pardon of Mr. Arpaio to delineate between the concepts of “law and order” and “busting heads.” In issuing the Friday night pardon, they write, the president showed himself to favor the “busting heads” model of law enforcement. Read more »
Margaret Talbot in The New Yorker:
“But Trump probably also likes Arpaio because the former sheriff represents in miniature what the president would like to be more maximally — a successful American authoritarian.”
Not only is Mr. Arpaio’s pardon a “gift to the white nationalists, ” writes Ms. Talbot, but it also signifies “a broad-brush contempt for fundamental rights in this country.” She recounts Mr. Arpaio’s “longstanding reputation for flouting civil rights” and draws connections between the president and the sheriff, noting that both men regard “reporters, activists and critics of his policies as personal enemies as well as enemies of the people.” Read more »
Ian Haney López in The Nation:
“With courts powerless to stop this double assault on democracy, Trump must be held to account politically. This is precisely the situation for which impeachment was designed.”
Mr. López makes the case for impeachment, writing that the president’s pardon has proved his lack of respect for the rule of law. When the president is no longer answerable to the judicial branch of government, he is held to account by the people in one of two ways: “the electoral process” or “impeachment by the people’s representatives in the House.” Read more »
Bob Bauer in Lawfare:
“Trump disrupted the operation of the criminal justice process to score a political point, and he believes that the ‘complete power to pardon’ gives him all the space he needs for this maneuver and requires of him only the most pro forma, meaningless explanation of his action.”
Mr. Bauer, who served as President Barack Obama’s White House counsel, finds the administration’s pardon statement to be “damningly” brief. He links the president’s pardon to another piece of big news from Friday night: the departure of the White House adviser Sebastian Gorka — reading the pardon as a “gesture” to appease the “right flank” of his constituency. Read more »
Frank O. Bowman III in Impeachable Offenses:
“Yesterday, by pardoning former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Mr. Trump committed his first verifiable impeachable offense.”
Mr. Bowman runs a blog dedicated to “a more rigorous analysis” of impeachment than the one found in the mainstream news media, which he, as a scholar of the subject and a law professor at University of Missouri, deems to be “poorly informed.” And while Mr. Bowman admits that he voted for Hillary Clinton and sees Mr. Trump as “unsuited for the presidency, ” he also believes that the president “is entitled to an uninterrupted tenure of office unless he commits a ‘high crime or misdemeanor.’ ” According to Mr. Bowman, the pardoning of Mr. Arpaio may have been the first “verifiable” impeachable offense of this administration. Read more »
Harry Enten in FiveThirtyEight:
“National surveys conducted before the pardon suggest it’s likely to be unpopular with the public. But that doesn’ t mean it will drive Trump’s job approval rating lower.”
Mr. Trump is “more vulnerable” when he is criticized from the right and left, writes Mr. Enten, who has been carefully tracking how the president’s words and deeds affect his standing in the polls. Noting how far President Gerald Ford’s approval ratings fell when he pardoned his predecessor, Richard M. Nixon, Mr. Enten argues that, in general, high profile pardons are “rarely good for a president’s popularity.” Read more »
Jonathan Turley in USA Today:
“While Trump described Arpaio as a ‘worthy candidate’ for a pardon, Trump’s action flouted both the purpose and process for presidential pardons.

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