What’s Next For Sheriff David Clarke? He Won’t Say, For Now

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After Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke resigned Thursday, with more than a year left in his fourth term on the job, there were conflicting reports on his next move.

Clarke claimed in May that he had accepted a job in President Donald Trump’s Department of Homeland Security. DHS itself never acknowledged any job offer, and Clarke eventually took his name out of the running in June.

On Thursday, he resigned with a one-sentence letter. Then, in a statement reported by the Associated Press, he said he had “chosen to retire to pursue other opportunities” and “I will have news about my next steps in the very near future.”

Politico reported Thursday, citing two unnamed sources familiar with the matter, that Clarke was expected to take a job in the Trump administration.

HLN’s Carol Costello quoted an unnamed DHS official: “He is NOT coming here,” they said.

And on Friday morning the Washington Post reported that an unnamed person close to Clarke said he was likely to join “an outside group that supports the President’s agenda,” contradicting Politico’s reporting. Another unnamed source “familiar with the matter” said Clarke was not expected to join the Trump administration.

Clarke, as usual, was active on Twitter after the resignation. But only one dispatch pertained explicitly to his future plans.

Clarke has faced legal trouble for his harsh jailing methods. Four people died in Milwaukee County Jail in 2016, including a newborn baby. Two women filed lawsuits alleging they were shackled during birth in the jail, the Washington Post reported, and a family of one of the men who died, Terrill Thomas, recently sued Clarke and several others. Thomas died of dehydration after jail officials cut water to his cell for seven days.

The former sheriff has also adopted rhetoric that played to the increasingly aggressive “us vs. them” tenor of Trump’s base.

In an early draft of his recent book, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported, Clarke advocated that American citizens suspected of terrorism be rounded up and jailed at Guantanamo Bay — that is, treated as enemy combatants without full constitutional rights. (Trump endorsed the book on Twitter Sunday.)

In October last year, he called for an armed mob to combat “our institutions of gov, WH, Congress, DOJ, and big media,” which he called “corrupt.”

“All we do is bitch,” he said.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously assistant editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at mshuham@talkingpointsmemo.com and on Twitter @mattshuham.

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