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John Oliver calls Trump's pardon of Joe Arpaio a slap in the face to Latinos and rule of law

Former Maricopa County, Ariz., Joe Arpaio (Joshua Lott / Getty Images)
Former Maricopa County, Ariz., Joe Arpaio (Joshua Lott / Getty Images)

After a few weeks off the air,  "Last Week Tonight" returned to HBO on Sunday night with a blistering segment on Joe Arpaio, the former Maricopa County, Ariz., sheriff recently pardoned by President Trump. 

Or, as host John Oliver put it, "a man who answers the question 'What if a decaying russet potato somehow hated Mexicans?'" 

As Oliver recapped, Arpaio gained a national profile thanks to a host of controversial practices, including feeding prisoners rotting food and forcing them to wear pink underwear and chain-gang style uniforms and live in a tent city where temperatures soared.

Maricopa County, where Arpaio served until last year, has also paid out several settlements to families of inmates who died while in custody. 

Though Arpaio's targeting of Latino communities drew scrutiny from groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union and the Department of Justice, he has shrugged off charges of racism, once citing his daughter's adoption of “a black and a Mexican with Down syndrome" as evidence of his tolerance. 

But for all of Arpaio's tough-on-crime rhetoric, Oliver argued, the notorious sheriff — who like Trump once had his own reality show —seemed content to let certain crimes fall through the cracks. 

The comedian noted that Arpaio's department had failed to adequately investigate some 400 sex crimes, some involving children. 

"That is a casual indifference to overlooking sex crimes so egregious I am genuinely surprised that Penn Sate hasn’t erected a statue of him," Oliver said. 

But what ultimately got Arpaio in trouble was his practice of racial profiling. He was found guilty of criminal contempt last year for continuing to target Latinos in defiance of a court order, and also lost his bid for reelection.  

Trump's pardon was not only a slap in the face to Latinos, Oliver said, it was also a slap in the face "to the very rule of law itself." 

"Arpaio broke the very rules he was sworn to uphold, rules that are put in place to protect citizens from a government going out of control," he continued. "At least as far as this White House is concerned, for the next few years, law enforcement won’t necessarily be expected to do their jobs the way the Constitution or the courts say they should."

You can watch the segment, which includes profanity, here










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