A tireless champion of the rule of law

Mike Pence fancies himself the Voice of Morality in the Trump administration – which is odd since you can’t work for Trump without stepping deliberately into a moral sewer, but anyway he does fancy himself that.

So it is worth noting what Pence, the Trump administration’s righteous man, did in Arizona on Tuesday. According to the Hill’s Jacqueline Thomsen:

Vice President Pence praised former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted of contempt of court, as a “tireless champion of … the rule of law” during an event in Arizona on Tuesday.

Pence said at the tax event that he was “honored” by the former sheriff’s attendance, and called Arpaio a “great friend of this president and tireless champion of strong borders and the rule of law,” to cheers from the crowd.

A tireless champion of the rule of law who was convicted of violating a federal court order to stop arresting and detaining people for no reason other than his own whim (and the fact that they looked “Mexican” of course). He was convicted of violating a federal court order. That’s not a tireless champion of the rule of law. In Arpaio’s case it’s also a mean racist shit.

Daniel Drezner quotes the National Review:

Arpaio was convicted of criminal contempt last summer for willfully violating a federal court order. Specifically, he was convicted of violating an order that he cease arresting and detaining people for whom there was no plausible criminal charge — i.e., the court asked him, pretty please, to stop detaining Mexicans for publicity purposes. Arpaio says he was arresting illegal immigrants, and he may well have been, but it is not a criminal offense simply to be illegally present in the United States. (That is a civil matter.) Until such a time as Congress passes a law making such presence a crime (and delegates enforcement of that federal statute to the sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz.), arresting people under color of law for that non-crime isn’t law enforcement — it’s lawlessness.

But Sheriff Joe has a thing for arresting people who haven’t committed any crime. He arrested a Republican critic — the county supervisor — on trumped-up charges in 2008 and ended up handing over $3.5 million of taxpayers’ money in a wrongful-arrest settlement. He tried to bully the mayor of Phoenix in much the same way, demanding phone logs and other records as part of a nonsensical “investigation” designed to silence a critic. In another spectacular abuse of power, Arpaio teamed up with a friendly county attorney and filed a federal lawsuit seeking the federal prosecution of several judges and lawyers — his political enemies — under the RICO organized-crime statute. Arpaio, being Arpaio, held a press conference announcing the investigation, which the federal courts immediately threw out as “patently frivolous.” Millions more taxpayers’ dollars were paid out in settlements.

That’s not The Nation or Mother Jones or American Prospect, it’s National Review. Like Trump, Arpaio is a bad man who does bad things. It’s not political or “partisan”; it’s just the truth.

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