House Speaker Paul Ryan joined with other Republican leaders Saturday in criticizing President Donald Trump’s decision to pardon Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
“The speaker does not agree with the decision,” Doug Andres, a spokesman for Ryan, told The Wall Street Journal. “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.”
Arpaio, a strong Trump supporter, was convicted in July of criminal contempt for violating a 2011 court order mandating that police patrols stop arresting people suspected of being illegal immigrants. Arpaio disregarded the court order as Maricopa County sheriff, and would apprehend immigrants and turn them over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers.
“Throughout his time as Sheriff, Arpaio continued his life’s work of protecting the public from the scourges of crime and illegal immigration,” the White House said Friday announcing Arpaio’s pardon, the first presidential pardon Trump has issued. “Sheriff Joe Arpaio is now eighty-five years old, and after more than fifty years of admirable service to our Nation, he is worthy candidate for a Presidential pardon.”
Arizona Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake also disagreed with the pardon, criticizing the president for not allowing the justice system to take its course. (RELATED: Hours Before Pardon, Arpaio Used ‘Guilty’ Verdict To Fundraise For Shady Nonprofit)
“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,” McCain said in a statement Friday.
“I would have preferred that the President honor the judicial process and let it take its course,” Flake said in a tweet regarding the Arpaio pardon.
Former Arizona state Sen. Kelli Ward, who apparently has the president’s support in her challenge of Flake in the Republican U.S. Senate primary, took Trump’s side.
“We applaud the president for exercising his pardon authority to counter the assault on Sheriff Arpaio’s heroic efforts to enforce the nation’s immigration laws,” Ward said.
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