President Trump’s first pardon was a controversial one. Former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio had been found guilty of criminal contempt over charges he refused to cease law enforcement activities that his detractors labeled “racial profiling.”
But at a Monday news conference, Trump defended the Arizona lawman, praising Arpaio as a “patriot.” As seen in a YouTube video, a reporter confronted the president about the pardon. In response, Trump pulled out and read from a list of controversial pardons by Bill Clinton and Barack Obama–including murderous violent criminals and terrorists.
Trump’s decision to pardon Arpaio was a popular move among his base of voters. Trump had hinted at pardoning Arpaio at a rally in Phoenix before formally announcing it. When he mentioned the possibility to a large crowd, his supporters erupted in cheers.
However, politicians–including prominent members of his own party–have been quick to blast Trump for pardoning Arpaio. Those Republicans include John McCain (R-AZ), and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI).
Interestingly, McCain previously offered to help Sheriff Arpaio when he was in the middle of his trial, as covered by Breitbart. Arpaio himself believes the change in behavior is McCain’s way of making Trump “look bad.”
Paul Ryan has publicly expressed disagreement with President Trump a number of times. According to CNN, Ryan claimed Trump “messed up” his Charlottesville response by saying that the Alt-Left group Antifa was also responsible for the deadly violence.
After Antifa attacked peaceful right-wing protesters on Sunday, as reported by the left-leaning Washington Post, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), condemned the violent leftist group.
Ryan followed Pelosi’s lead and made a statement condemning Antifa the next day–essentially doing exactly what he had criticized Trump for. It was a move that led onlookers to question Ryan’s allegiance to conservative principles.
Yet neither McCain, Ryan, nor other Republicans who criticized Trump’s pardon of Arpaio expressed such vocal opposition to the controversial criminals Barack Obama pardoned. Trump, anticipating the questioning from the press, went prepared to the conference ready to highlight the apparent double standard held by members of the media.
As seen in the video, Trump brought up the case of Oscar Lopez Rivera, a terrorist responsible for fatal bombings in the Chicago area during the 1970s and 1980s. Obama commuted Rivera’s sentences, allowing him to walk free. There was also Chelsea Manning, who Obama pardoned despite Manning’s leak of classified information that endangered American lives.
Trump mentioned domestic terrorist Susan Rosenberg and drug dealer Carlos Vignali. They were both responsible for deaths of innocent people, yet both had their prison sentences surprisingly commuted by Bill Clinton. Another Clinton pardon, Marc Rich, was a high-level financier guilty of bank fraud who was set free after his wife donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Clintons.
President Trump concluded his Arpaio remarks in the YouTube video with praise for the former sheriff. “Sheriff Joe is a patriot. Sheriff Joe loves our country. Sheriff Joe protected our borders. So I stand by my pardon of Sheriff Joe, and I think the people of Arizona, who really know him best, would agree with me.”
In his move to champion Sheriff Joe Arpaio, President Trump begged no one’s pardon.