I can find the text of the presidential announcement of a pardon for Joe Arpaio, however I've been led to believe that the text of a presidential pardon is usually very specific as to what the pardon covers and/or the time period covered.

I would also expect this to be a public document, but I've never been able to find it. Where can the text of Joe Arpaio's pardon be found?

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    Apparently, it is not necessary for a pardon to be published. See this proposed bill intending to change that, and this article by the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi. Whether this particular pardon was still published, I have no idea.
    – chirlu
    Commented Sep 22, 2017 at 7:13
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    @chirlu, interesting bill, as it suggests that the under the current status the president is enabled to issue "get out of (federal) jail cards" secretly (that is known only to the person and the president.
    – BobE
    Commented Sep 22, 2017 at 15:52

1 Answer 1


Nothing in the constitution lays out any requirements for the form or logic of a Presidential pardon, other than "I say so". So he said so on twitter. This is the only version that seems to have been released to the public in any sense directly from the White House or the government in general.

Thanks to the comments of Carpetsmoker and origimbo, it appears that Arpaio himself received a more formal and specific pardon, which has made its way into the public through media interviews.

Image of pardon, downloaded from wikipedia, and appearing elsewhere

Wikipedia image file

This image appears in a Washington Examiner article, and is attributed to a Twitter post of Michael Keiffer, who interviewed Arpaio. Assuming this is the actual pardon Arpaio received, the seal of the Department of Justice would indicate that some copy of the file is on record somewhere within that Department.

Arguably, the only restriction the constitution places on the president's pardon power is that it can only be used to pardon federal crimes. Current legal opposition to the Arpaio pardon is based less on "the constitution specifically says you can't do this" and more on the meta-argument of "what's the point of even having a constitution if he can do this kind of thing?". There are other Q&A's on this site that deal with this more specifically.

In fact, pardons can be very non-specific, so that rules-lawyering lawyers don't try to circumvent the intent with technicalities. The pardon of Arpaio is fairly specific, though the second point is non-specific: no specific crimes are pointed out, just completely arbitrary crimes that otherwise fall under a particular legal umbrella. At the extreme end, Ford's pardon of Nixon was for any and all crimes committed, possibly committed, or in any way involved in, over a period of several years.

do grant a full, free, and absolute pardon unto Richard Nixon for all offenses against the United States which he, Richard Nixon, has committed or may have committed or taken part in during the period from January 20, 1969 through August 9, 1974.

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    There is also a slightly more "official" proclamation outside of a tweet: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…
    – user11249
    Commented Sep 22, 2017 at 11:30
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    The provenance for the wikipedia photo appears to be that it's the copy Joe Arpaio himself received, as photographed by a journalist web.archive.org/web/20170827050054/http://… and twitter.com/michaelbkiefer/status/901299143917748225 documentcloud.org/documents/3974908
    – origimbo
    Commented Sep 22, 2017 at 13:18
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    carpetsmoker's link demonstrates that the Arpaio pardon was fairly specific as to Arpaio's conviction as well as Arpaio's contempt issues pertinent to the Melendres case..... However my question had to do with where to find the actual text. As it now appears (thanks to wiki) that the document carries the seal of DOJ, I would surmise that it would be found at the Justice Department
    – BobE
    Commented Sep 22, 2017 at 16:11
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    Your edit improved the answer. BTW, the "umbrella" you refer to is specific to USC Tiltle 18, chapter 21 which deals exclusively with contempt.
    – BobE
    Commented Sep 22, 2017 at 21:38

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