Former Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s lawyers compared congressional Democrats to Internet trolls Thursday night, and said the way the judge is handling the case against Mr. Arpaio had turned embarrassing.
In a document filed with the court, the lawyers said that Judge Susan Bolton’s had allowed the case to become farcical with the latest brief this week from top House Democrats, who urged the judge to ignore President Trump’s pardon.
“This case is fast turning into the judicial equivalent of an online ‘comments’ section,” Mr. Arpaio said through his lawyers.
The former Maricopa County, Arizona, sheriff had thought he was in the clear after Mr. Trump’s pardon last month, but Judge Bolton has refused so far to grant his request to have his record expunged. In keeping him twisting, she has also given a slew of anti-Trump and anti-Arpaio activists, including some of the country’s most prominent legal scholars, to suggest she ignore the pardon altogether.
This week Democrats in Congress lent their voice, saying since Mr. Arpaio was convicted of contempt of court, that charge should be beyond the scope of a pardon.
“The pardon here is an intentional usurpation of the court’s authority by the president,” argued the Democrats, led by senior members of the House Judiciary Committee.
Democrats’ argument will likely have a tough legal path. Experts on presidential pardons say there are myriad examples of pardons or commutations issued in contempt cases, and Mr. Trump’s pardon is in line with those.
The Democrats’ separation of powers argument also rings hollow after the Obama administration’s handling of former Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.
Mr. Holder was held in contempt of Congress for failing to comply with document requests, yet Mr. Holder’s own Justice Department refused to pursue the case — giving one branch an effective veto over another branch’s contempt powers.
But the Democrats said Mr. Trump presents a special danger. They said they fear he will issue repeated pardons to thwart the courts, and they said impeachment — the solution the Supreme Court has suggested for such abuses — can’t be the only option.
Mr. Arpaio’s lawyers have accused Judge Bolton of botching her handling of the case from the beginning, saying she should have allowed the former lawman a jury trial, and saying she misconstrued evidence to convict him.
In their new filing Thursday, they demanded she cut short her deliberations and settle the matter now — “so that the ‘comments’ section does not continue to grow.”