“WE HAVE THE EVIDENCE”
by Sharon Rondeau
(Jan. 11, 2018) — On Wednesday, CNN’s Chris Cuomo hosted former Maricopa County Sheriff Joseph M. Arpaio ostensibly to speak about his newly-announced run for the U.S. Senate to replace retiring Sen. Jeff Flake.
Arpaio, 85, has had a 56-year career in government service: four years in the U.S. Army during the Korean War; 3½ combined years as a city police officer in Washington, DC and Las Vegas, NV; 25 years in the aggregate as a Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) agent and supervisor; and more recently, 24 years as the chief law enforcer of Maricopa County, AZ, where he adopted the moniker, “America’s toughest sheriff.”
Cuomo introduced Arpaio by reviewing the circumstances by which he was charged with and convicted of misdemeanor criminal contempt of court last July by a federal judge, stating to the audience as fact that Arpaio discriminated against “Mexicans” while conducting traffic stops and other patrols.
Hardly a neutral media outlet, CNN has been dubbed by President Donald Trump as the purveyor of “very fake news” and was forced to terminate three employees last June after an article appearing to connect a “Russian investment fund” to some in Trump’s inner circle was retracted.
Cuomo did not attempt to withhold his personal views of some of Arpaio’s past policing tactics and focused more on the past than that which Arpaio wishes to accomplish as a member of Congress’s upper chamber should he be elected. Cuomo also misrepresented the circumstances under which Arpaio was charged with criminal contempt, giving the impression that the Justice Department initiated the underlying lawsuit when in fact, the case was “brought” by a number of Hispanic plaintiffs by the ACLU in late 2007.
As Arpaio stated, it was not until the day prior to the commencement of Arizona’s early voting period in October 2016 that the DOJ announced that it would prosecute Arpaio on the referral of U.S. District Court Judge G. Murray Snow, who had found Arpaio to be in civil contempt of his 2013 permanent injunction emanating from the lawsuit. At the time, Arpaio was seeking re-election to a seventh term as Maricopa County sheriff.
When asking Arpaio if he harbored “regrets” for any of his actions, Cuomo included “the birtherism claims about President Obama,” referring to the 5+-year investigation into the “long-form” birth certificate image posted by the Obama White House in 2011 with the apparent intent to convince Americans that Obama was “born in Hawaii,” as he has claimed.
Article II, Section 1, clause 5 of the U.S. Constitution requires the president and commander-in-chief to be a “natural born Citizen.”
Within hours of its publication, several experts claimed the image to be a forgery.
Arpaio responded by invoking the song by Frank Sinatra entitled, “My Way,” which contains the words, “Regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention…”
However, Arpaio clarified that he has “no regrets” but admits to having made “a few mistakes” during his 24 years as sheriff. At 10:19 in the video, Cuomo asked, “Is the ‘birtherism’ a mistake?”
The term arose early in 2011 after then-businessman Donald Trump questioned whether or not Obama met the citizenship criterion contained in Article II, calling upon the White House to release his “long-form,” or more detailed, birth record than the “Certification of Live Birth” proffered by the Obama campaign in 2008.
In August 2011, Arpaio authorized the launch of a probe into the image which he believed would quickly dispel doubts that it was authentic. To his surprise, his lead investigator, Mike Zullo, informed him several days later that there were obvious problems with the image requiring more investigation.
To the surprise of virtually all citizens following the probe, Zullo continued his work for more than five years, holding three press conferences and meeting with stonewalling from Hawaii officials, including at the Hawaii Department of Health (HDOH).
“Oh…now you’re bringin’ that up,” Arpaio responded to Cuomo. “I’m gonna tell you something…” he told him as the two cross-talked briefly.
“Well, why wouldn’t I?” Cuomo asked, referring to “birtherism” as one of several “black marks” on Arpaio’s record rather than asking about the investigational findings.
On April 26, 2011, the first part of a CNN mini-series dubbed “born in the USA,” was aired. The report, featuring Gary Tuchman in Hawaii, depicted him visiting the HDOH and interviewing former director Dr. Chiyome Fukino, who claimed to have seen Obama’s original birth record in 2009 and confirmed that all was in order.
However, the CNN print article and Tuchman’s commentary contain significant deviations from fact, one of which states, “Obama could file a Freedom of Information Act request to view his original birth certificate and make copies.” There is no provision in the Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS) which allows for a birth record to be released through an open records request under Hawaii’s UIPA law.
Another false statement is the explanation Tuchman offered for Fukino having accessed Obama’s original birth record, if, in fact, she did. The phrase “direct and tangible interest in the record” contained in HRS 338-18 relates to the circumstances and familial relationship(s) acceptable by law to the HDOH for release of a certified copy of a vital record.
The list of possible recipients does not include the HDOH director. In fact, provision (c) in the law reads, “The department may permit the use [of] the data contained in public health statistical records for research purposes only, but no identifying use thereof shall be made.”
For several years, Part 2 of the CNN mini-series has been missing. The section had briefly shown at its conclusion a photo of what appeared to be the microfilm version of a birth certificate which could have been misleading to some viewers.
During the course of Arpaio’s investigation, Zullo confirmed that the HDOH would not permit a viewing of the microfilm on which Obama’s original birth record would have been stored.
In a curiously-backdated articled dated April 15, 2011, CNN falsely stated, referring to the long-form birth certificate image, that “Obama released his original birth certificate.” The image uploaded to the White House website was never purported to represent the original, and correspondence allegedly exchanged days before between Obama’s personal attorney, Judith Corley, and then-HDOH Director Loretta Fuddy referred to the preparation of two “certified copies.”
The birth certificate probe concluded in December 2016 with the revelation that two reputable forensic analysts produced reports concurring with Zullo’s assessment that the birth certificate image is a “computer-generated forgery.”
Cuomo accused Arpaio of having been “part of a campaign to delegitimize a president of the United States,” to which Arpaio replied by emphasizing, as he has before, that the probe never focused on Obama’s birthplace.
Later, Cuomo attempted to suggest that Arpaio lost his last election because of the birth certificate investigation. He reminded Arpaio that “even Donald Trump said that he believes that the president was born in this country,” referring to a September 2016 campaign proclamation Trump made with the apparent intention of silencing critics who recalled his activism and claim of credit after the long-form image was published.
According to some reports, Trump has again shown an interest in what they call the “birther” theme.
In a recent interview with this publication, Zullo said as to detractors of the investigation, to include the media:
These people need to suck you into the fray…your input keeps their game going. Simply don’t do it. I haven’t for seven years. It is a waste of good time and energy. The reality is they are all irrelevant. They cannot play in the arena where this matter is now and will be advancing to. Not one of them is going to change the facts or stop what is about to come. They are powerless.