On Friday night Trump pardoned Joe Apraio, the racist Arizona sheriff whose “pervasive culture of disriminatory bias against Latinos” has been well documented by the Justice Department and the free press. Earlier this summer, Apraio was convicted of criminal contempt for defying the rule of law – for 18 months he refused to obey a federal court order to stop harassing immigrants – but Trump has now gifted him a get-out-of-jail-free card.
The White House announcement said in part: “Throughout his time as Sheriff, Arpaio continued his life’s work of protecting the public from the scourges of crime and illegal immigration. Sheriff Joe Arpaio is now eighty-five years old, and after more than fifty years of admirable service to our Nation, he is worthy candidate for a Presidential pardon.”
But here’s what Trump was really saying:
“Me and Joe bonded years ago when he sent a posse to Hawaii to check up on Obama’s fake birth certificate – that right there was enough to make me love a guy who loves me back very very nicely. Plus I like how he arrested lots of bad hombres and how he called his jail a ‘concentration camp.’ So of course I got Joe’s back. Of course I asked the Justice Department to drop the case against Joe. Of course I don’t give a fug what some federal judge thinks about Joe, no way I’m going to let that judge sentence Joe, because I alone am the rule of law.
“But in the end this whole thing is not about Joe. This is really about that punk Bob Mueller. This pardon is a dry run for dealing with Mueller and his phony Russia thing.
“I’ve sent a tough and smart message to all my associates and family members, believe me. If Mueller starts harassing them with subpoenas – like he’s been doing with Mike Flynn, like he’s doing now with Paul Manafort, my ex-campaign chairman who I only knew for a very, very brief time, like maybe minutes – they should just give Mueller the finger.
“Because I will have their backs very, very strongly. If they refuse to coooperate with Mueller’s fake investigation, if they defy his witch-hunt subpoenas, then yeah, Mueller can get some judges to hold them in contempt of court. But so what. As soon as my loyal boys get in hot water and seem headed for jail, I’ll give ’em pardons. I used to jerk the courts around when I was the world’s most successful businessman, and this is even easier than that because nobody can fug with my pardon power.
“So the message to my boys is, ‘Hang tough, don’t cut no deals with Mueller. You cover my butt, I’ll cover yours. You saw what I did for Joe, I’ll do the same for you.’
“Remember how Tony Soprano drove to the Pine Barrens to pick up Christopher and Paulie when they were freezing their asses off? This is like that. Except my ratings are higher.
“The Fake News losers will claim that pardoning everyone is an ‘obstruction of justice’ and an ‘impeachable offense,’ or whatever the elite academics try to call it, but who’s gonna try to impeach me for that, huh? The Republicans? They’re weaker than women. Paul Ryan – that’s his name, right? – he said he didn’t like that I pardoned Sheriff Joe. He said he ‘does not agree with this decision.’ What a candyass. I’ve seen spayed dogs with bigger cajones.
“And after all my pardons restore law and order to America, we’ll do one more thing for Sheriff Joe down in Arizona. To save our heritage, let’s give him a big beautiful statue.”
And speaking of the burgeoning Russia probe…
Who better to speculate shrewdly about the Trump scandal than John Le Carre (ex-spy and masterful spy novelist) and Ben McIntyre (masterful non-fiction spy author)? If you haven’t read their dialogue in yesterday’s New York Times Book Review section, check this out.
Q: “Do you think the Russians really have something on Trump?”
McIntyre: “I can tell you what the veterans of the SIS (the British Secret Intelligence Service, or MI6) think, which is yes, kompromat was done on him. Of course, kompromat is done on everyone. So (the Russians) end up, the theory goes, with this compromising bit of material and then they begin to release parts of it. They set up an ex-MI6 guy, Chris Steele, who is a patsy, effectively, and they feed him some stuff that’s true, and some stuff that isn’t true, and some stuff that is demonstrably wrong. Which means that Trump can then stand up and deny it, while knowing that the essence of it is true. And then he has a stone in his shoe for the rest of his administration. It’s important to remember that Putin is a KGB-trained officer, and he thinks in the traditional KGB way.”
Le Carre: “The mentality that is operating in Russia now is absolutely, as far as Putin is concerned, no different to the mentality that drove the most exotic conspiracies during the Cold War. It worked then, it works now. As far as Trump, I would suspect they have it (compromising material), because they’ve denied it. If they have it and they’ve set Trump up, they’d say, ‘Oh no, we haven’t got anything.’ But to Trump they’re saying, ‘Aren’t we being kind to you?'”
McIntyre: “And today you get this wonderful Russian lawyer woman (Natalia Veselnitskaya, who was in the pre-election meeting at Trump Tower with Donald Trump Jr.) who is straight out of one of our books, a character that is possibly connected to the Russian state. Who knows? They exist somewhere in that foggy, deniable hinterland. It’s called maskirovka – little masquerade – where you create so much confusion and uncertainty and mystery that no one knows what the truth is.”
Le Carre: “For Putin, it’s a kind of little piece of background music to keep things going. The smoking gun might or might not be the documents exchanged about the Trump Tower in Moscow (which Trump is said to have been planning to build). Then there’s the really seedy stuff in the Caucasus. There are bits of scandal which, if added up, might suggest he went to Russia for money. And that would then fit in with the fact that he isn’t half as, a tenth as rich as he pretends to be.”