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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Criminal Candidates

 In Defying the Odds, we discuss state and congressional elections as well as the presidential race

Michael Scherer at WP:
Former New York congressman Michael Grimm is a felon who has admitted to hiring undocumented workers, hiding $900,000 from tax authorities and making false statements under oath. To hear him tell it, that’s a reason Staten Island Republicans should vote him back into office.

“It’s almost identical to what the president has been going through,” Grimm says of the federal investigation that led to his imprisonment. “It’s not an accident that under the Obama administration, the Justice Department was used politically. And that is all starting to come out.”

Grimm has uncovered a new reality in the constantly changing world of Republican politics: Criminal convictions, once seen as career-enders, are no longer disqualifying. In the era of President Trump, even time spent in prison can be turned into a positive talking point, demonstrating a candidate’s battle scars in a broader fight against what he perceives as liberal corruption.

In a startling shift from “law-and-order Republicans,” Trump has attacked some branches of law enforcement, especially those pursuing white-collar malfeasance, as his allies and former campaign officials are ensnared in various investigations.

Following his lead, Republican Senate candidates with criminal convictions in West Virginia and Arizona have cast themselves as victims of the Obama administration’s legal overreach. Another former Trump adviser who pleaded guilty to a felony has also become an in-demand surrogate, as Republicans jump at the chance to show their opposition to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.
Jennifer Rubin at WP:
Vice President Pence’s recent welcome for the convicted and pardoned former sheriff Joe Arpaio, now a Senate candidate, was a new low in the sorry tale of Pence’s self-debasement. He declared at an event for America First Policies (more about that outfit in a moment): “A great friend of this president. A tireless champion of strong borders and the rule of law.” Pence gushed, “He spent a lifetime in law enforcement — Sheriff Joe Arpaio, I’m honored to have you here.”

Authors of an amicus brief challenging Arpaio’s pardon wrote for The Post:
For more than 20 years, Arpaio ran the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office with shocking cruelty and lawlessness, especially against Latinos. In 2011, a federal judge issued an injunction in a lawsuit challenging the practice of detaining and searching people for, in essence, driving while Latino. The judge found evidence that the sheriff’s office engaged in racial profiling and stopped Latinos just to determine their immigration status. He ordered it to cease detaining people without reasonable suspicion of a crime.
Arpaio flagrantly ignored the injunction, and in May 2016, the judge found him to be in civil contempt of court. In July, a second federal judge found him in criminal contempt, which can be punished by imprisonment.