President Donald Trump has defended his decision to pardon former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio by listing past controversial presidential pardons or commutations — and in the process mislabeled Chelsea Manning as a “he”.
Ms Manning, who was convicted on criminal charges for leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents, has undergone a public transition in recent years to become a transgender woman. She saw her sentence commuted earlier this year by former President Barack Obama, who reasoned that her original 35-year sentence was disproportionate relative to sentences other leakers have received.
Mr Trump brought her up at a press conference alongside Finnish President Sauli Niinistö, and named several other controversial presidential commutations or pardons signed by his predecessors as proof that letting Mr Arpaio off the hook was an acceptable thing to do. In addition to Ms Manning, Mr Trump referenced Marc Rich — an investor who received a pardon from former President Bill Clinton on his last day in office — and Oscar Lopez Rivera — a Puerto Rican activist and militant whose sentence was commuted by Mr Obama.
Mr Arpaio received his presidential pardon last week, after being convicted for defying a judge’s order to tell his sheriff deputies not to target immigrants, or people who they believed were immigrants. He was initially convicted on a misdemeanour charge related to that order, but later saw criminal charges once he refused to honor the order.
The former sheriff is well known for his tough stance on immigrants, and has been a controversial enforcer of the law during his career. One of the many things that have attracted criticism to Mr Arpaio was his decision to build “tent city”, which was an outdoor jail in the hot desert near Phoenix, where he would keep inmates in Korean War-era canvas tents. Those inmates would also be forced to wear pink underwear during their time in the jail.
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