President Donald Trump stood by his decision to pardon former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio at his Monday press conference after members of his own party criticized the move.
“Sheriff Joe is a patriot, Sheriff Joe loves our country, Sheriff Joe protected our borders, and Sheriff Joe was very unfairly treated by the Obama administration, especially right before an election, an election he would have won,” Trump told reporters when asked about the pardon, highlighting what he saw as a political decision on his predessessor’s part to prosecute Arpaio.
— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) August 28, 2017
Meanwhile, the so-called “establishment” of the Republican Party, represented in the person of House Speaker Paul Ryan, came out strongly against the pick. “The speaker does not agree with this decision,” Doug Andres, a spokesman for Ryan told Fox News. “Law enforcement officials have a special responsibility to respect the rights of everyone in the United States. We should not allow anyone to believe that responsibility is diminished by this pardon.”
Ryan was joined in this assessment by both Republican Senators from Arpaio’s home state of Arizona, John McCain and Jeff Flake. In turn, their counterparts in the Democratic Party like Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Rep. Maxine Waters were equally upset that Arpaio would no longer be facing up to six months in jail and added the expected accusation of “racism.”
Joe Arpaio ignored the courts and the rule of law in order to systematically target Latinos in AZ. The definition of racism and bigotry.
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) August 26, 2017
I'm not surprised Trump pardoned racial profiler Arpaio. White Nationalists, KKK, & Duke celebrated Trump's election b/c he is one of them!
— Maxine Waters (@RepMaxineWaters) August 26, 2017
President Trump contrasted the relative lack of outrage accompanying pardons and commutations by his Democratic predecessors Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. For example, the president pointed to Clinton’s last minute pardon of financier Marc Rich, who as Trump put it, “was charged with crimes going back decades, including illegally buying oil from Iran while it held 53 American hostages … he was pardoned after his wife donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Clintons.”
Also on Trump’s hit list were Clinton pardonee Susan Rosenberg, a Weather Underground terrorist in the 1970s and 80s suspected of involvement in the deadly 1981 Brinks robbery, Obama’s commutation of the sentences of Bradley (now “Chelsea”) Manning, the source behind one of the largest leaks in U.S. Army history, and a different left-wing terrorist, FALN member Oscar Lopez Rivera.
“I stand by my pardon of Sheriff Joe and I think the people of Arizona who really know him best would agree with me,” Trump said.