One of the most meaningful powers a United States president has is the ability to pardon. In July of 2017, Arizona Sheriff and Trump surrogate, Joe Apraio was found guilty of contempt of court. The president stepped in almost immediately and pardoned the former lawman just a month later.
The pardon was controversial as some saw the move as payback for Arpaio’s support during Trump’s 2016 campaign. Now a group of lawmakers, including Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Eric Swalwell (D-CA) want that pardon to be reviewed and possibly invalidated.
The 24 person group of Democrats are asking a federal appeals court in California to invalidate Arpaio’s pardon. The lawmakers wrote in a brief, “A presidential pardon of contempt of court or of contempt of Congress is thus an encroachment on the independence of those co-equal branches of government.”
The Democrats also feel that Trump’s pardon was not given to, “ameliorate an unduly harsh criminal punishment or to correct a mistake in the enforcement of the criminal law.”
Judge Susan Bolton, who oversaw Arpaio’s case, found little ambiguity in the verdict. She wrote, “Not only did defendant abdicate responsibility, he announced to the world and to his subordinates that he was going to continue business as usual no matter who said otherwise.” Thanks to the pardon, though, Arpaio never faced any punishment for the contempt charge.
Pardons have been a popular topic of conversation since Trump has taken office. Numerous former Trump White House officials have admitted to and been sentenced for crimes during Robert Mueller’s investigation. With Arpaio, Democrats may be testing ways to lessen the president’s pardoning power.