President Donald Trump’s pardon of former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a campaign supporter who shares Trump’s views on immigration, touched off a political outcry that did not abate Saturday.
Democrats condemned the president’s decision, which was made public by the White House on Friday night as Hurricane Harvey, a Category 4 storm, churned toward the Texas coast. Some Republicans praised the move and others criticized it, but most remained silent about a decision that further entangles the party in racial controversy.
Jesse Lehrich, a spokesman for Organizing for Action, the political group that grew out of former President Barack Obama’s campaigns, said that the pardon “signals a disturbing tolerance for those who engage in bigotry.”
He added, “It sends an unsettling message to immigrants. … And it’s a repudiation of the rule of law.”
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., echoed Lehrich’s sentiment that Trump had sent a poor message about adhering to the rule of law. The state’s other Republican senator, Jeff Flake, who has been attacked by Trump and who is facing a potential primary challenge, was more muted.
“Regarding the Arpaio pardon, I would have preferred that the President honor the judicial process and let it take its course,” Flake tweeted.
Rep. Trent Franks, another Arizona Republican, said he saw it as a just end to the saga of Arpaio’s legal entanglements, which included defying a court order intended to halt racial profiling of Latinos.
“The president did the right thing — Joe Arpaio lived an honorable life serving our country, and he deserves an honorable retirement,” Franks posted on Twitter.