Neither of Arizona’s two U.S. senators – Republicans Jeff Flake and John McCain – endorsed President Trump’s pardon Friday evening of former Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio.
“Regarding the Arpaio pardon, I would have preferred that the President honor the judicial process and let it take its course,” Mr. Flake, Arizona’s junior senator, tweeted about an hour after the pardon was announced Friday night.
“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,” Mr. McCain, his senior counterpart, said in a statement of his own.
The senators’ reactions came shortly after the White House announced the pardon Friday night, hardly 72 hours after Mr. Trump hinted he would clear the retired lawman’s contempt of court conviction during a campaign style rally in Phoenix this week.
“So was Sheriff Joe convicted of doing his job?” Mr. Trump said Tuesday evening. “You know what, I’ll make a prediction: I think he’s going to be just fine, OK?”
Mr. Arpaio, 85, was convicted in July for ignoring a federal judge’s order to stop racially profiling criminal suspects while leading the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office in the metro Phoenix region. He’s also frequently garnered the president’s praises, however, and rumors of a pardon have persisted in the few weeks since being found guilty by a federal judge.
In a statement announcing the pardon, the White House attributed Mr. Arpaio with “protecting the public from the scourges of crime and illegal immigration,” adding: “after more than fifty years of admirable service to our Nation, he is a worthy candidate for a Presidential pardon.”
“No one is above the law and the individuals entrusted with the privilege of being sworn law officers should always seek to be beyond reproach in their commitment to fairly enforcing the laws they swore to uphold,” Mr. McCain countered Friday.
Mr. Flake and Mr. McCain have each been outspoken critics of the Trump administration since the president took office in January, and Mr. Trump took aim at both of them during Tuesday’s rally, albeit not directly.
“One vote away! I will not mention any names. Very presidential, isn’t it,” Mr. Trump said in reference to Mr. McCain’s dissenting vote against a Republican healthcare measure last month.
“And nobody wants me to talk about your other senator who’s weak on borders, weak on crime - so I won’t talk about him,” Mr. Trump said of Mr. Flake. “Nobody knows who the hell he is.”
“See, I haven’t mentioned any names, so now everybody’s happy,” the president said.