It’s been amply established that Donald Trump has an alarmingly low bar for acceptable behavior from public officials. After all, Sean Spicer is still press secretary despite planting a fake news story to discredit a reporter. Sebastian Gorka is still his top counterterrorism adviser despite being caught on tape calling a private citizen to berate him, as well as his documented ties to far-right groups in his native Hungary.
Well, the bar may be about to get even lower. A sheriff who only wants to reach across the aisle in order to choke his foes is reportedly in line for a post at the Department of Homeland Security.
With the long-overdue defeat of Joe Arpaio in Maricopa County, Arizona, there is no longer any dispute that Milwaukee County, Wisconsin Sheriff David Clarke is America’s looniest sheriff. This is a man who defended the takeover of an Oregon wildlife refuge, had someone searched when he dared to shake his head upon recognizing him on a plane, and angrily declared that he only wanted to reach out to Dems “to grab one of them by the throat!” To give you an idea what kind of person he is, that rant at the DeploraBall is still available on his Twitter feed.
While I was inside at DeploraBall, DC police were outside doing a hell of a job keeping creep a-hole agitators away. https://t.co/xL5AzkZnh5
— David A. Clarke, Jr. (@SheriffClarke) January 20, 2017
Additionally, after calling for “pitchforks and torches” to get Trump in office, he had this warning for those who took to the streets to protest Trump’s upset win.
These temper tantrums from these radical anarchists must be quelled. There is no legitimate reason to protest the will of the people. pic.twitter.com/G502pwNSN9
— David A. Clarke, Jr. (@SheriffClarke) November 10, 2016
And that’s just in the last year. People for the American Way’s Right Wing Watch has an extensive dossier of Clarke’s extremist statements and actions.
But apparently none of that matters. Politico reports that Clarke is in line to become Assistant Secretary of the DHS Office of Partnership and Engagement. That office helms DHS’ efforts to reach out to state and local governments. Clarke was one of Trump’s earliest and loudest supporters–thus eliminating any doubt that he is not really a Democrat even though he runs as a Democrat–virtually the only way to win a partisan countywide office in sapphire-blue Milwaukee County. He had previously been on the short list to become Secretary of Homeland Security.
On paper, it seems that a guy who has no desire to reach across the aisle is the last person you’d want in a post that requires working with state and local officials regardless of party. But then again, it has been amply established that this is not a normal administration.
According to one official familiar with the matter, Clarke’s appointment “is not a done deal yet.” However, once it is finalized, Clarke would be able to take office right away; the post is not subject to Senate confirmation.
It’s probably a good thing that Clarke wouldn’t have to face the Senate. After all, even without the filibuster as an option, recent events would have made any confirmation hearing difficult, to say the least. For one thing, four people died at Clarke’s jail in 2016. One of them was a newborn baby, and another was a man who spent a week without water. Despite this, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker says that for now, it isn’t his place to decide whether Clarke should stay in office.
Last month, Clarke came under fire for meeting with Dmitry Rogozin, a top deputy to Russian strongman Vladimir Putin, while on an NRA-funded trip to Russia. Rogozin was sanctioned in 2014 after the Russian takeover of the Crimea. Meeting with a person who has been slapped with sanctions isn’t illegal as long as no business is transacted. However, according to Boris Zilberman of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, merely meeting with someone who has been flagged for “conduct which is in direct opposition to U. S. national security interests” is curious at best.
So a guy who openly brags about his refusal to work across the aisle may be about to have a job that requires doing just that. If there is any doubt that Trump has no interest in bringing the country together, the prospect of Clarke being in his administration should erase it once and for all.
(featured image courtesy Clarke’s Twitter)