Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke expressed uncertainty over whether he would end up serving in the Trump administration in two recent interviews, citing CNN’s reporting on plagiarism in his master’s degree thesis paper as an attempt to intimidate him personally and undermine the administration’s confidence in him.
CNN reported Saturday that Clarke had quoted sources directly without using quotation marks 47 times in his 2013 thesis.
“They’re saying certain words and phrases I should have put quotation marks around. OK, alright, fine,” Clarke acknowledged in an appearance on “The Sid and Bernie Show” Tuesday morning, CNN noted. He called the network’s reporting “a political smear.”
“This is designed to intimidate me,” he said. “It’s designed to try to weaken the confidence that President Trump has in me, that Secretary Kelly has in me.”
In a separate interview flagged by CNN, with Joe Pags, Clarke said, “I’m in a political environment, sometimes political decisions are made.”
“President Donald Trump has to do what’s in the best interest of his administration,” continued. “And they’ve cut people loose before, I don’t know why. So time will tell.”
Clarke would be an alarming choice to work in the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Partnerships and Engagement, which coordinates federal outreach with local stakeholders.
Clarke claimed on May 17 that he had been offered a job at DHS, but the department posted on its Twitter account the same day that “Sr. positions are announced when made official by the Sec. No such announcement w/ regard to the Office of Public Engagement has been made.”
DHS officials have not responded on multiple occasions to TPM’s questions about any possible job offers extended to Clarke.
Four people in Clarke’s custody died in a over a period of six months in 2016, including the infant daughter of Shadé Swayzer, who was arrested when she was more than eight months pregnant, and Terrill Thomas, who died of dehydration seven days after jailers shut off water to his cell.
On May 1, a jury recommended charges be brought against seven Milwaukee County Jail officials in relation to Thomas’ death.
Clarke also has a bit of an authoritarian streak.
On his radio show in 2015, the sheriff offered a simple response to individuals who post material deemed sympathetic to terrorism on social media: “[S]coop them up, charge them with treason and, under habeas corpus, detain them indefinitely at Gitmo.”
“We have no idea how many people out there have pledged allegiance or are supporting ISIS, giving aid and comfort, but I would suggest hundreds of thousands, I would suggest maybe a million,” he added.
To track down terrorism suspects, he suggested separately, America needs “a wholly independent structure entity, which reports directly to the White House.”
In October, he wrote on Twitter that it was “Pitchforks and torches time,” after commenting, “our institutions of gov, WH, Congress, DOJ, and big media are corrupt.”
He included an image of a violent mob:
It's incredible that our institutions of gov, WH, Congress, DOJ, and big media are corrupt & all we do is bitch. Pitchforks and torches time pic.twitter.com/8G5G0daGVN
— David A. Clarke, Jr. (@SheriffClarke) October 15, 2016