Rep. Adam Schiff made the crucial point that Donald Trump's pardon of Sheriff Joe Arpaio could be taken as a message of support to anyone targeted by the special counsel's investigation into Russian election interference.
The top Democratic lawmaker on the House Intelligence Committee thinks it could also be a signal to Trump's cronies who are under investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller.
And that message is: Keep your mouth shut, and Trump will abuse the powers of the Oval Office for your benefit.
Speaking with MSNBC's Ari Melber, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) called the pardon a "political tool" and not about "the interest of justice."
And moreover, "The concern I have is that he’s sending a message to people that may be under investigation by Bob Mueller, that 'I have your back and I’ve got a pardon waiting for you,'" Schiff stated.
MELBER: You’re saying, based on what you’ve seen, you think [the Arpaio pardon] is an abuse because he used it as essentially a kind of political campaign ploy?
REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF: Absolutely. This is a political tool. [Trump] telegraphed it at a rally, in front of his supporters. This isn’t about the interest of justice. This isn’t about rewarding someone or giving them a second chance or acknowledging their other service to the country. This is patently political. And to the degree there is any overlap with the Russia investigation, I guess I have a different take than [Bob Bauer, White House counsel under President Barack Obama]. The concern I have is that he’s sending a message to people that may be under investigation by Bob Mueller that 'I have your back and I’ve got a pardon waiting for you.' I am concerned about that because obviously, this a President who is not above using the pardon power strictly in his own, very narrow personal interest.
While Trump's pardon shows a complete disdain for the rule of law and his keen interest in backing the worst racist elements of society, it also comes on the heels of more breaking news in the Russia investigation.
On the same day that Trump issued the pardon, the Washington Post reported that lawyers for Mueller "have issued subpoenas to several prominent Washington lobbying firms as the probe examines the finances of two former Trump campaign advisers, according to people with knowledge of the requests."
The Post notes that Manafort and Flynn "face possible legal jeopardy for allegedly failing to disclose that foreign governments or parties may have been the beneficiaries of their consulting and lobbying work."
Seperately, but also the same day as the Arpaio pardon, the Wall Street Journal reported that Mueller is looking into "what role, if any, former national security adviser Mike Flynn may have played in a private effort to obtain Hillary Clinton’s emails from Russian hackers, according to people familiar with the matter."
Trump issued a pardon to one of his staunchest supporters — a pardon that did not go through the normal Justice Department process — on the same day that major stories broke showing other staunch supporters are becoming more deeply mired in the Russia investigation.
But that sends a signal to other Trump cronies who are under investigation: pledge your allegiance to Trump, and Trump has got your back, respect for the Constitution and honor of the office be damned.