Part V: Trump’s Pardons
Many Americans fear that, if President Trump faces legal action, he will simply pardon himself. But the truth is, President Trump has been using his pardoning powers quite a bit already. Here are two of his most contentious pardons thus far.
As a celebrity himself, Donald Trump has shown a penchant for pardoning people of some fame. One of these pardon recipients is Dinesh D’Souza, a conservative author and filmmaker famous for promoting conspiracy theories in his works. He allegedly made a $20,000 campaign contribution using fake names to Wendy Long, a college friend of his who was running for U.S. Senate in 2012.
D’Souza was convicted in 2014 and was still serving part of his sentence (five years of probation) when Trump pardoned him in May 2018, even going as far as firing Preet Bharara, D’Souza’s prosecutor. The media has speculated that he may have done this in order to show support for a far-right conservative, to honor suggestions from officials like Ted Cruz, or to incite controversy.
Arpaio, who referred to himself as “America’s toughest sheriff,” was the longtime sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona. He was no stranger to scrutiny even before the case that led to his pardon; he had been accused of everything from the failure to investigate sex crimes to election law violations over the years, largely centered upon the harsh conditions in his detention centers. Arpaio was also partial to the press and had appeared on a number of reality-style cop TV shows.
Arpaio’s luck appeared to run out when he was accused of racially targeting Latinos in an attempt to weed out illegal immigrants. This led to a 2007 federal case, Melendres vs. Arpaio, brought on by Manuel De Jesus Ortega Melendres, a Mexican tourist who was pulled over while visiting the area. This eventually led to a court order forbidding Arpaio from conducting racially selective patrols, but Arpaio reportedly ignored the order. In 2017, he was convicted of violating the order and was set to be sentenced on October 5. That’s when President Trump stepped in.
"Throughout his time as sheriff, Arpaio continued his life's work of protecting the public from the scourges of crime and illegal immigration," the president said in a statement pertaining to the pardon. "Sheriff Joe Arpaio is now 85 years old, and after more than 50 years of admirable service to our nation, he is (a) worthy candidate for a Presidential pardon."
Thus far, President Trump’s pardons have shown no pattern of forgiving those who are close to him; instead, he appears to target high-profile cases. However, there is no question that if Trump attempts to pardon himself or people in his administration, including family members, years of court battles would ensue.
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