The Open Thread for August 27, 2017

“As Joseph Arpaio’s federal case headed toward trial this past spring, President Trump wanted to act to help the former Arizona county sheriff who had become a campaign-trail companion and a partner in their crusade against illegal immigration,” the Washington Post reports.

“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… 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… His effort to see if the case could be dropped showed a troubling disregard for the traditional wall between the White House and the Justice Department, and taken together with similar actions could undermine respect for the rule of law, experts said.”

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) blasted President Trump’s pardon last night of Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Said McCain: “No one is above the law and the individuals entrusted with the privilege of being sworn law officers should always seek to be beyond reproach in their commitment to fairly enforcing the laws they swore to uphold. Mr. Arpaio was found guilty of criminal contempt for continuing to illegally profile Latinos living in Arizona based on their perceived immigration status in violation of a judge’s orders.”

He added: “The President has the authority to make this pardon, but doing so at this time undermines his claim for the respect of rule of law as Mr. Arpaio has shown no remorse for his actions.”

Matt Taibbi: “Donald Trump didn’t just take advantage of these conditions. He was created in part by them. What’s left of Trump’s mind is like a parody of the average American media consumer: credulous, self-centered, manic, sex-obsessed, unfocused, and glued to stories that appeal to his sense of outrage and victimhood.”

“We’ve created a generation of people like this: anger addicts who can’t read past the first page of a book. This is why the howls of outrage from within the ranks of the news media about Trump’s election ring a little bit false. What the hell did we expect would happen? Who did we think would rise to prominence in our rage-filled, hyper-stimulated media environment? Sensitive geniuses?”

“We spent years selling the lowest common denominator. Now the lowest common denominator is president. How can it be anything but self-deception to pretend this is an innocent coincidence?”

“The daughter of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, like her father a Navy veteran, appears, in the rawest of terms, to have excoriated President Trump in a social media post after the announcement that transgender soldiers would be banned from the military,” the Billings Gazette reports.

Said Jennifer Detlefsen: “This man is a disgrace. I’ve tried to keep politics out of my social media feed as much as possible, but this is inexcusable… This veteran says sit down and shut the fuck up, you know-nothing, never-served piece of shit.”

Speaker Paul Ryan does not agree with President Trump’s decision to pardon controversial former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Said a spokesman: “The speaker does not agree with the decision. Law-enforcement officials have a special responsibility to respect the rights of everyone in the United States. We should not allow anyone to believe that responsibility is diminished by this pardon.”

David Frum: “Trump has given hope to anyone implicated in his own scandals that—if they keep loyal to him—he will defy all other considerations and ignore all contrary advice to protect them. Like his presidency, Trump’s pardons will be a one-man show, conducted without regard to ethical niceties or even ordinary political calculations. That must come as reassuring news to a whole host of characters embroiled in the Russia probe.”

Bob Bauer: “An act of this kind cannot fail to affect Mueller and his team as they investigate obstruction of justice and evaluate evidence bearing on the President’s motives and respect for law. Trump will have added more telling detail to the picture prosecutors are piecing together of ‘how he operates.’ Congress may now or in the future also have occasion to conduct its own inquiry.”

“And while the president may well get away with the specific act of pardoning Arpaio, this action will not be without effect on future calls for impeachment. Unlike a pardon of himself, family members, or aides in the Russia matter, pardoning Arpaio would probably not result in the immediate demand for an impeachment inquiry. If, however, impeachment pressure increases, or a formal impeachment inquiry is launched on the basis of Russian ‘collusion,’ obstruction, or on other grounds, an Arpaio pardon in the background will be highly damaging to the President’s position. It will immeasurably strengthen the hand of those arguing that Donald Trump does not have the requisite respect for the rule of law, or an understanding of the meaning of his constitutional oath, to be entrusted with the presidency.”

“Republicans on Capitol Hill lament President Trump’s aggressive behavior toward them, but some people in the president’s orbit are urging him to up the ante even further,” The Hill reports.

“They say that, far from making nice, Trump needs to instill fear so that lawmakers do not feel at liberty to thwart him.”

Said longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone: “Most members of Congress are arrogant, and until a scalp is actually taken they are going to continue to be defiant. All he needs to do is punish one incumbent and I think you’d see a sea-change.”

“If the goal is to accomplish absolutely nothing and fundamentally destroy the Republican Party from a national perspective, I wouldn’t change a thing.”

— Josh Holmes, a former chief of staff and adviser to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), quoted by Politico about President Trump’s sustained criticism of GOP lawmakers.

President Trump was “furious” about Gary Cohn’s criticism of him in a Financial Times interview, a White House official tells the Washington Post.

Meanwhile, Cohn’s critics celebrated the interview, hoping that it would undercut his stature with the president. Said one Trump ally outside the White House, who has been strategizing to undermine Cohn: “Cohn looks like he blew himself up, so we’re not going to have to blow him up.”

Meanwhile, Cohn was overheard complaining loudly about Trump while dining with friends at a Long Island restaurant.

“Cohn explained to his companions — in a loud voice overheard by others — that he had to be careful not to give Trump too much lead time about some new ideas because the president could disclose the information prematurely and upend the planning process, according to a person familiar with the dinner.”

An Arizona Republic editorial:

After Trump was elected, many hoped he would abandon his habit of appealing to the worst instincts of disaffected white Americans who have been left behind by economic changes that had little to do with undocumented immigration.

Many hoped Trump would decide to become the president of all the people.

But Trump spent last week demonstrating that he wants to be president of the few.

By pardoning Arpaio, Trump made it clear that institutional racism is not just OK with him. It is a goal.

That should trouble every American who believes that our duty as a nation is to continue working on behalf of equal justice.





Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

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