Trump says he pardoned Arpaio as Harvey hit Texas because “I assumed the ratings would be far higher than they would be normally.” (via CBS) pic.twitter.com/4SecfqrShU
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) August 28, 2017
On Friday evening, President Trump pardoned the controversial Arizona ex-sheriff Joe Arpaio, to the dismay of many. Arpaio, known as “America’s Toughest Sheriff” was found guilty of criminal contempt in early August after failing to stop racially profiling Latinos with a series of problematic illegal immigration round ups.
Trump’s decision was met by criticism from many, including Senator John McCain, who said in a written statement: “The President has the authority to make this pardon, but doing so at this time undermines his claim for the respect of rule of law as Mr. Arpaio has shown no remorse for his actions.”
The decision to pardon Arpaio was made late in the evening on Friday, in the middle of Hurricane Harvey, so it was very clear that the White House was trying to bury this offensive choice by the President. However, despite these roadblocks, the reaction was still mostly negative, and on Monday during a joint press conference with the Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, Trump claimed that “a lot of people think this was the right thing to do.” However, Trump proved that he will always have his television roots in one quip: “Actually, in the middle of a hurricane, even though it was a Friday evening, I assumed the ratings would be far higher than they were normally.”
Unsurprisingly, this also did not go over well.
Trump then went on to drag former presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama into this, because despite his belief that Arpaio did nothing wrong, he had to remind everyone that they had pardoned controversial people as well.
President Clinton pardoned Marc Rich, who was charged with crimes going back decades, including illegally buying oil from Iran while it held 53 American hostages. [He] wasn’t allowed to do that. Selling to the enemies of the United States. He was pardoned after his wife donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Clintons.
You’ve heard the word leaker? President Obama commuted the sentence of Chelsea Manning who leaked countless sensitive and classified documents to WikiLeaks, perhaps in others, but horrible, horrible thing that he did, commuted the sentence and perhaps pardoned.
He also highlighted Obama’s pardoning of Oscar Lopez Rivera, because at this point, his first instinct is to deflect.