Trump was wrong to pardon Arpaio, but other presidents have done worse

The biggest problem with the pardon is the crime itself. The greatest cause for concern is the impact of this pardon on our principles underlying the rule of law. Our legal system depends on compliance with court orders ranging from search warrants to injunctions, particularly for law enforcement officials. Arpaio put himself above the law while claiming to enforce it.

If Trump felt Arpaio warranted clemency, he could have simply negated his sentencing. That is what George W. Bush did with Scooter Libby, a former adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney. Libby was convicted of perjury and obstruction for lying about his conversations with reporters about the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame. Bush refused calls for a pardon as inappropriate and instead commuted Libby’s 30-month prison term but not his $250,000 fine. Conversely, Trump negated Arpaio’s entire conviction while proclaiming that he was merely doing his job.