By State Representative, Leon D. Young
It’s no secret that Fridays are generally considered to be slow media days in the nation’s capital. Hence, presidents and their administrations have routinely taken advantage of this opportunity and put forth questionable policy initiatives in hopes that they might fall through the cracks of both media and public scrutiny. In political circles, this is known as the Friday Night News Dump.
Last week, Donald Trump attempted to make use of this convenient political subterfuge. Late Friday, he ordered the Pentagon to reverse the Obama administration policy on transgender troops, reverting to the ban on transgender service members that was in place prior to 2016.
Trump also halted spending on medical treatment for troops transitioning to the other sex unless such a move would endanger the service member’s health. The order also affects the Department of Homeland Security, which contains the Coast Guard.
Sebastian Gorka, an outspoken adviser to President Trump was forced out of his position at the White House, under the cover of last Friday night. Mr. Gorka, a deputy assistant to the president, had been on vacation for at least the last two weeks, tried to soften his departure by claiming that he had resigned. However, the White House, seeking to blunt Mr. Gorka’s claim that he had resigned, put out an unattributed statement saying that he no longer works in the administration, but that he did not resign.
Mr. Gorka, the outspoken lightening rod, was on record for having said that in fighting terrorism, white supremacists should not be a concern. He made the remarks shortly before the racially charged violence in Charlottesville, Va., in which a man who was said to admire Adolf Hitler rammed his car into counter protesters and left a woman dead.
Clearly, Trump’s most egregious sleight of hand involved his decision last Friday to pardon Arizona’s former Sheriff Joe Arpaio. It must be noted that Mr. Arpaio’s aggressive efforts to hunt down and detain undocumented immigrants made him a national symbol of the divisive politics of immigration and earned him a criminal contempt conviction. In a twoparagraph statement, the White House said that Mr. Arpaio gave “years of admirable service to our nation” and called him a “worthy candidate for a presidential pardon.”
The White House statement about Sheriff Joe is complete and utter hogwash; and masks Trump’s real motives for issuing his executive amnesty. On its face, the pardon represents another opportunity for Trump to throw some more red meat to his base — by showing his support for those who push his agenda on illegal immigration.
However, on a more subliminal and nefarious level, Arpaio’s exoneration sends a different message. It signals to White House staff and personal associates, who are currently in the crosshairs of Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller, to hang tough and not cooperate, and if they are subsequently charged with criminal contempt, he will pardon them.
Under the cover of last Friday night and an approaching hurricane, Donald Trump thought it was finally safe to pardon Joe Arpaio. A man convicted of criminal contempt by two federal judges in Arizona. Clearly, Arpaio operated, as if, he was above the law, in violating the legal protections of Latinos. This is a man who is more deserving of a prison sentence, rather than an executive pardon.