The evening of Aug. 25, Donald Trump pardoned Joe Arpaio, former sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona. It is not the presidential pardon itself that is controversial; this is a constitutionally assigned power given to the president. It is the circumstances surrounding the pardon that are questionable.
I am not here to debate the crimes Arpaio was convicted of, but instead Trump’s failure to follow the correct process to be used in a pardon. In the case of Arpaio, Trump pardoned him before the case had been completed.
While Arpaio had been found guilty of criminal contempt of court by a federal court in July, he was not due for sentencing until October. The premature nature of the pardon in itself is unusual. What makes this act even more unusual is the pardon did not go through any judicial review by the U.S. Justice Department.
This premature nature and the fact he did not submit the case to judicial review demonstrates that Trump does not respect the constitutional system of checks and balances. This system of checks and balances protects our democracy from falling victim to the abuse of power by any one branch. By doing this, he has set precedence that a president could prevent supporters from being held accountable for wrong-doing.
I urge anyone who wants to ensure our democracy is protected to contact your representative in the U.S. House and Senate. It is important that we urge Congress to use its constitutional powers to block any further abuses by Trump.