Thursday, September 28, 2017

Arpaio claims he was target because of ‘birther’ involvement

  Former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, a guru of right-wing conspiracy theories, is spreading a new one, and this time it’s about him.

  In his first “interview” since being pardoned of a crime last month by President Trump, Arpaio claims he was prosecuted by the Justice Department because of his earlier involvement in the “birther” movement.

  “I don’t think it was so much the illegal roundups. . . I think it was the birth certificate issue they [the Obama administration] were mainly after me about,” Arpaio told American Free Press.

  The controversial publication, which has published assorted government conspiracy pieces and claimed the Holocaust was a hoax, is the successor to the Spotlight, published by Willis Carto’s anti-Semitic Liberty Lobby.

  Trump pardoned Arpaio on August 25, less than a month after the “toughest sheriff in America” was convicted of criminal contempt-of-court by a federal judge for ignoring another judge's order in a racial-profiling case.

  The president pardoned his long-time friend and political supporter before sentencing where Arpaio could have received as much as six months in jail.

  The criminal charge grew out of a lawsuit claiming the Arizona sheriff violated the constitutional rights of Hispanics by organizing armed, civilian volunteers to make racial profile stops of people they suspected weren’t in the country legally.

  Arpaio and then-businessman Donald Trump, along with leaders of the Tea Party, pushed the birther-conspiracy movement, claiming that then-President Barack Obama wasn’t born in the United States and, therefore, couldn’t legally hold office.

  As Maricopa County sheriff, Arpaio has claimed he didn’t use any public funds in the effort, but there are those who question that.

  Even when records of Obama’s birth in August 1961 in Honolulu, Hawaii, were produced, backed up by contemporaneously published newspaper “official records” corroborating that fact, Trump and Arpaio continued peddling the falsehood.

  After Arpaio was defeated in his re-election bid last November, he held one last press conference as sheriff, still maintaining without proof that Obama’s birth records were fraudulent.

  The New York Times called the birther propaganda smear a “remarkable campaign of relentless deception that tried to undermine the legitimacy of the nation’s first black president.”

  The AFP said it “reached out to Arpaio to hear directly from the embattled lawman” in an “effort to bypass the fake news.”

  “The hostile mainstream press has repeatedly piled on the false narrative that Arpaio had engaged in ‘racial profiling’ when his deputies apprehended illegal alien suspects,” the AFP piece said.

  In a bit of a contradiction, the “constitutional” sheriff, who generally doesn’t recognize the power or authority of federal law enforcement, pointed to just that in justifying what subsequently were deemed unconstitutional arrests.

  “I had the authority to enforce immigration laws … sworn in by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security,” Arpaio claimed in the interview with AFP.

  Arpaio, now 85, also told the extremist publication that he still hasn’t given up the notion of again running for public office. All he needs, Arpaio said, is a phone call from his friend, Donald Trump.

  This article was published by the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

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