From The New Yorker.
Clearly, Trump’s disdain for judicial authority should trigger alarm, but it is far from the only constitutional concern implicated by the Arpaio pardon. To start, Trump has smashed through an even more basic set of norms that apply to the Chief Executive, who is tasked with serving as a role model on—and initial interpreter of—what the law requires. In a July 28th speech on Long Island, Trump made clear that he has no problem with officers roughing up suspects. “Please don’t be too nice” to arrestees, he urged the police in his audience, and instructed them to feel free to stop protecting a suspect’s head when placing them in a patrol car “if they just killed somebody,” prompting applause from some officers standing behind him. The White House later said that Trump was joking, but the remark rightly triggered a wave of rebuke from law-enforcement officials across the country and from the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Now, by pardoning Arpaio—shortly after a rally where he suggested that Arpaio was “convicted for doing his job”—Trump has committed an official act that serves to confirm his views on the permissibility of law enforcement’s use of excessive force. That act does not merely undermine the courts’ ability to serve as a check on police misconduct from the back end. It is a move to redefine what constitutes legitimate law enforcement from the front.