President Donald Trump said today he timed his pardon of Joe Arpaio to coincide with a deadly weather catastrophe so as to utilize its high ratings to bring more awareness to the controversial pardon.
Press who have speculated Trump timed the pardon of the former Maricopa County, AZ, sheriff so as to bury the news while America’s focus was on Hurricane Harvey got it dead wrong, the President insisted at a Monday afternoon news conference with Finland’s president.
“I assumed the ratings would be far higher than they would be normally – the hurricane was just starting,” Trump boasted.
In anticipation of the question about the timing, Trump brought with him, and read, a list of previous pardons of controversial or sleazy types that had been handed out by Democratic presidents. Arpaio was “very unfairly treated by the Obama Administration,” Trump said, adding that he stands by his decision to pardon the sheriff.
Last Friday, in the teeth of one of the most powerful storms to hit the U.S. in more than a decade, Trump announced he has pardoned Arpaio, who was found guilty of criminal contempt last month after disregarding a court order in a racial-profiling case. He also was a devoted follower of Trump’s birther movement, which held that Barack Obama was not born in this country and therefore did not hold his office legally.
Hours before today’s news conference, PhoenixNewTimes tweeted a list of Arpaio’s “accomplishments” over the years.
Trump’s decision to give Arpaio a Get Out Of Jail card was blasted even by members of the Republican party, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, who said he “does not agree” with the decision – and Sen. John McCain, who tweeted the “pardon of Joe Arpaio, who illegally profiled Latinos, undermines his claim for the respect of rule of law.”
Nuts to them, Trump suggested at his Monday afternoon presser, noting how well his promise that he would pardon Arpaio had played at his recent rally in Phoenix.
Trump began Monday’s presser reading a prepared statement about the ratings magnet that served him so well in the pardon announcement/wink to his base:
“The single most important thing,” Trump said of the situation in Texas, “is the safety and security of those still in harm’s way, including the first responders, who have been so terrific and brave.”
“Tragic times such as these bring out the best in America’s character, strength, charity, and resilience… We see neighbor helping neighbor, friend helping friend, and stranger helping stranger. And you see that all over. You watch on television, you see such incredible work and love, and teamwork. We are one American family. We hurt together, we struggle together, and believe me, we endure together, we are one family. To the people of Texas and Louisiana, we are 100 percent with you.”
Trump said he would travel to Texas on Tuesday and would return Saturday when he also would fly to Louisiana, where the hurricane is moving.
As of noon Sunday, an estimated 9 trillion gallons of rain water had fallen in southeast Texas.