When Joe Arpaio accepted a pardon from President Donald Trump after his conviction for violating a court order, he apparently didn’t realize that he was admitting wrongdoing. Enter MSNBC’s Ari Melber, who broke the news to the man who recently announced his candidacy for United States Senate. What ensued was quite the awkward exchange, where Arpaio insisted he did nothing wrong, only for Melber to inform him that he’s already said otherwise. The relevant portion of the interview begins at the 1:00 mark in the clip above.
Melber didn’t waste any time in his interview, immediately asking the former Maricopa County Sheriff, “Why should you get a promotion to write laws, when you yourself didn’t follow court orders?”
Arpaio responded by noting that his conviction was for a misdemeanor, and that President Trump pardoned him, “because he knew that this decision was wrong, and I appreciate that pardon.”
“As you know, when you take a pardon, you’re admitting guilt. Why did you take that pardon and admit guilt?”
“I didn’t admit guilt,” Arpaio said. “I said I was not guilty, and I say it today.”
Oh boy. Melber continued to push on the issue, and it just got more uncomfortable from there.
“But you accepted the pardon,” Melber persisted, “and you know under the law that is an admission of guilt.”
“No, I don’t know about that, you’ll have to talk to the legal scholars about that.”
Well, Melber didn’t have to talk to any other legal scholars, being that he is a lawyer, and he cited the Supreme Court decision that indeed says that a pardon is an admission.
In Burdick v. United States, the Court said a pardon “carries an imputation of guilt and acceptance of a confession of it.”
That case isn’t exactly new. It’s from 1915, and it was a key factor in President Gerald Ford‘s decision to pardon President Richard Nixon. Ford made sure that when Nixon accepted his pardon, that he was aware of the Burdick decision and it’s implications. Keep in mind, Nixon wasn’t even charged with any offenses at the time, let alone convicted like Arpaio.
Arpaio did note that he continues to appeal the decision against him.
[Image via MSNBC screengrab]
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