Here’s a bit of useful background to the president’s hint that he intends to pardon former Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, illustrating once again the influence of the fever swamps on Trump’s thinking.
For months, the idea of pardoning for Arpaio has been been a cause celebre for the Alt Right and a near obsession for conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his Infowars website.
Was Infowars’s support influential on the president? Arpaio thinks so. Via Media Matters:
[Arpaio] appeared on conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ show to thank Jones, his staff, and Roger Stone for influencing President Donald Trump into potentially issuing Arpaio a pardon following his recent criminal conviction….
Arpaio opened his comments on Jones’ show by saying, “I want to thank you, Alex, and your staff, Jerry Corsi, Roger Stone, for bringing this story out and reaching the president. I supported him from, what, two years ago at the same forum that he did yesterday and I’m with him and I’m with him to the end.”
Indeed, Infowars had pushed the Arpaio pardon for months.
Since at least April, Corsi has been publishing articles advancing Arpaio’s interests. Corsi wrote an Infowars.com piece in June headlined “Why Trump White House and Sessions DOJ must help Sheriff Arpaio.” On August 18, Corsi published an article that said “Infowars.com has learned the White House counsel has prepared, at the request of President Trump, a pardon for former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio that is ready for Trump to sign.”
On his show, Jones took credit for advancing Arpaio's case to Trump, “claiming it started with Infowars Washington bureau chief Jerome Corsi" and was picked up by Matt Drudge. (In my book, I devote a chapter to the connection between Jones and Drudge and its implications for the Right.)
According to Jones, “It’s Dr. Corsi writing the articles, and it’s Matt Drudge picked him up, and the president saw it in Matt Drudge’s Twitter feed, and then said, ‘Is this true? I haven’t even heard of this on Fox.’ And he called [Sean] Hannity up, and said, ‘Why aren’t you covering this?’”
Hannity, of course, also joined the chorus and featured the ex-sheriff on his show this week. CNN reported Wednesday that the White House has prepared the paperwork for a possible pardon, which Trump telegraphed during his Phoenix rally/meltdown.
(h/t Newsweek/Nina Burleigh)