Saturday, August 19, 2017

NEW: Ahead Of Rally, Trump Justice Department Confirms It Is NOT Working On Arpaio Pardon

The U.S. Department of Justice confirmed to Arizona's Politics last night that its Pardon Office is not working on any petition to issue a pardon of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. President Donald Trump does have the power pursuant to the U.S. Constitution to grant executive clemency, but there have been federal regulations in place for more than 20 years to rout the pardon process through the DOJ's Office of the Pardon Attorney.

Speculation that President Trump may announce a pardon of Arpaio at his Phoenix rally this coming Tuesday has been running rampant since the President first told Fox News that he was on the verge of granting Arpaio a pardon for last month's misdemeanor criminal contempt of court conviction, Arizona's Politics has been seeking comment from the Department of Justice. As noted in the Monday article, the DOJ declined to comment as to whether the White House had reached out to the DOJ for input.

After further requests, including requests for clarification on the normal process for petitions for pardons, DOJ spokesman Wyn Hornbuckle told Arizona's Politics "I have confirmed with the Office of the Pardon Attorney that there is no such petition pending at this time."

The Office of the Pardon Attorney was set up by the Department of Justice in 1993, although the DOJ has been responsible for advising the President on exercising his constitutional authority to grant clemency for far longer. Under the process set up, Arpaio would not be eligible to petition for a pardon for five years from the time of his conviction, and the process is not even designed to handle misdemeanor convictions like his.

However, Arpaio was an early and prominent supporter of then-candidate Trump's and there is nothing to prevent the President from pardoning him now. However, as his DOJ's website suggests, it would not wipe away the conviction:
A pardon is an expression of the President’s forgiveness and ordinarily is granted in recognition of the applicant’s acceptance of responsibility for the crime and established good conduct for a significant period of time after conviction or completion of sentence. It does not signify innocence. It does, however, remove civil disabilities – e.g., restrictions on the right to vote, hold state or local office, or sit on a jury – imposed because of the conviction for which pardon is sought, and should lessen the stigma arising from the conviction. It may also be helpful in obtaining licenses, bonding, or employment. Under some – but not all – circumstances, a pardon will eliminate the legal basis for removal or deportation from the United States. (emphasis added)
Arpaio's attorneys have filed motions for acquittal and for a new trial in advance of appealing the July conviction. They declined to comment on the possibility of a Trump pardon of their client.
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