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Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters.

 

President Donald Trump is reportedly considering a pardon for Joe Arpaio, the former sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, after neo-Nazi and other fringe media that have supported Trump called for him to do so.

Arpaio was found guilty of criminal contempt of court on July 31 after “defying a court order to stop detaining suspected undocumented immigrants.” As The New York Times noted, the order originated from a lawsuit “charging that the sheriff’s office regularly violated the rights of Latinos, stopping people based on racial profiling, detaining them based solely on the suspicion that they were in the country illegally, and turning them over to the immigration authorities.” Arpaio, like Trump, was one of the biggest propagators of the false claimthat former President Barack Obama’s birth certificate was fake. According to The Arizona Republic, Arpaio “says he would welcome a presidential pardon” from Trump, although he told the paper that he was “not going to ask.”

When news of Arpaio’s conviction was revealed, fringe media outlets decried the trial and verdict, and urged Trump to pardon the former sheriff. Jerome Corsi of conspiracy theory outlet Infowars wrote that Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions “must help Sheriff Arpaio,” calling the trial a “travesty of justice” and asking whether Trump and Sessions would “continue to stand by watching.” Additionally, Infowars host David Knight, in a video titled “Pres. Trump, Pardon Sheriff Joe: ‘Guilty’ Of Defying Sanctuary Judge,” said that Arpaio “needs to be pardoned by the Trump administration or the Trump administration will be exposed to massive hypocrisy for allowing someone to go to jail for implementing the very policies that they’re talking about now.” Andrew Anglinof the neo-Nazi blog The Daily Stormer called Arpaio’s conviction “a blatant crucifixion of a man who stood up to the Obama agenda of ‘America for everyone from anywhere as long as they are not white’” and wrote that “Trump should pardon him.” Another neo-Nazi blog, Infostormer, claimed Arpaio had “been convicted of a crime simply because he was enforcing immigration laws,” adding “regardless of what happens, Donald Trump should pardon him.”

Some fake news purveyors joined the call for a pardon. TruthFeed called Arpaio’s conviction “absolutely ridiculous” and added, “We think Trump needs to pardon Arpaio.” After Arpaio said he was open to a pardon, TruthFeed wrote, “Hopefully, President Trump will soon have time to help his long-time supporter.” Patriots On The Right, calling Arpaio’s conviction “stupid,” urged people to “SHARE this story if you support the idea Joe Arpaio to be pardoned (sic).” World Politicus wrote that Arpaio being open to a pardon “could be good” because Arpaio had been a victim of a “witch hunt against” him and because “the judge had liberal ties.”

Following the outcry from neo-Nazi, fringe, and pro-Trump media as well as fake news purveyors, Fox News’ Gregg Jarrett reported on August 14 that Trump told Fox News that he was “seriously considering a pardon for Sheriff Arpaio” because he “has done a lot in the fight against illegal immigration. He’s a great American patriot and I hate to see what has happened to him.” Jarrett added that the pardon “could happen in the next few days, should [Trump] decide to do so.”

 

 

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Eric Holder

The failure of major federal voting rights legislation in the Senate has left civil rights advocates saying they are determined to keep fighting—including by suing in battleground states. But the little bipartisan consensus that exists on election reform would, at best, lead to much narrower legislation that is unlikely to address state-level GOP efforts now targeting Democratic blocs.

“This is the loss of a battle, but it is not necessarily the loss of a war, and this war will go on,” Eric Holder, the former U.S. attorney general and Democrat, told MSNBC, saying that he and the Democratic Party will be suing in states where state constitutions protect voting rights. “This fight for voting rights and voter protection and for our democracy will continue.”

“The stakes are too important to give up now,” said Damon Hewitt, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which for years has operated an Election Day hotline to help people vote. “Our country cannot claim to be free while allowing states to legislate away that freedom at will.”

In recent weeks, as it became clear that the Senate was not going to change its rules to allow the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to pass with a simple majority, there have been efforts by some lawmakers, election policy experts, and civil rights advocates to identify what election reforms could pass the Senate.

“There are several areas… where I think there could be bipartisan consensus,” said David Becker, executive director of the Center for Election Innovation and Research, in a briefing on January 20. “These areas are all around those guardrails of democracy. They are all about ensuring that however the voters speak that their voice is heard… and cannot be subverted by anyone in the post-election process.”

Becker cited updating the 1887 Electoral Count Act, which addressed the process where state-based slates of presidential electors are accepted by Congress. (In recent weeks, new evidence has surfaced showing that Donald Trump’s supporters tried to present Congress with forged certificates as part of an effort to disrupt ratifying the results on January 6, 2021.) Updating that law could also include clarifying which state officials have final authority in elections and setting out clear timetables for challenging election results in federal court after Election Day.

Five centrist Washington-based think tanks issued a report on January 20, Prioritizing Achievable Federal Election Reform, which suggested federal legislation could codify practices now used by nearly three-quarters of the states. Those include requiring voters to present ID, offering at least a week of early voting, allowing all voters to request a mailed-out ballot, and allowing states to start processing returned absentee ballots a week before Election Day.

But the report, which heavily drew on a task force of 29 state and local election officials from 20 states convened by Washington’s Bipartisan Policy Center, was notable in what it did not include, such as restoring the major enforcement section of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was removed by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013. It did not mention the Electoral Count Act nor growing threats to election officials from Trump supporters.

“This won’t satisfy all supporters of the Freedom to Vote Act, but this is a plausible & serious package of reforms to make elections more accessible and secure that could attract bipartisan support,” tweeted Charles Stewart III, a political scientist and director of the MIT Election Data and Science Lab. “A good starting point.”

The reason the centrist recommendations won’t satisfy civil rights advocates is that many of the most troubling developments since the 2020 election would likely remain.

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Former president Donald Trump

By Rami Ayyub and Alexandra Ulmer

(Reuters) -The prosecutor for Georgia's biggest county on Thursday requested a special grand jury with subpoena power to aid her investigation into then-President Donald Trump's efforts to influence the U.S. state's 2020 election results.

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