The US Department of Justice's pardon office did not review former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio's pardon, a DOJ official confirmed to BuzzFeed News late Friday.
It didn't have to.
The US Constitution gives the president broad power to issue pardons and commute sentences, and there is no law requiring the president to consult with the Justice Department. President Trump is not the first president to issue a pardon that didn't go through DOJ, but he now joins the ranks of presidents who made controversial clemency decisions outside of the standard pardon process. And he did so with his very first pardon.
People can apply to the Justice Department's Office of the Pardon Attorney for clemency — in the form of shortened sentences or full pardons — and the attorneys there can make recommendations to the White House after reviewing the cases. The regulations that govern that process don't bind presidents to go through the Justice Department when they want to exercise their pardon power, however.
The Justice Department official said that the Office of the Pardon Attorney did not receive a pardon application from Arpaio, who was found guilty of criminal contempt in July for failing to comply with a court order that his office stop detaining people based solely on the suspicion that they were illegally in the United States.