His pardon of ex-sheriff Joe Arpaio again shows that Trump has a malleable view of the rule of law when it comes to the police and his own allies. Arpaio says, “I really believe in his heart that he likes what I did and he believes I got the raw deal.”
President Trump spent 18 months as a candidate hawking law and order, promising to rescue an American way of life he said was threatened by terrorists, illegal immigrants and inner-city criminals, according to a New York Times analysis. As president, Trump has shown a flexible view on the issue, one that favors the police and his own allies over strict application of the rule of law. Trump has signaled that taking the law into one’s own hands is permissible, within the executive branch or in local police departments, or even against a heckler at one of his rallies. Trump’s pardon of his strong supporter Joe Arpaio, the former sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz., illuminated his impulses.
In his words and acts, Trump has sent a message to people in law enforcement that they can bend the law, if not break it. That includes his encouragement to police on Long Island last month to rough up crime suspects. His actions have raised questions about his commitment to hallmarks of the American system like due process, equal protection under the law, independence of judicial proceedings from political considerations, and respect for orders from the courts. Arpaio said Sunday the pardon showed Trump’s faith in the prerogatives of police officers. “He’s not using me to show he’s tough,” Arpaio said. “He is enforcing the rule of law…I really believe in his heart that he likes what I did and he believes I got the raw deal.”