President Trump’s homeland security and counterterrorism adviser on Sunday said Mr. Trump’s pardon of former sheriff Joe Arpaio is “pretty straightforward” and that most people are probably paying attention to other things at the moment.
“I think there’s a clemency argument that can be made for the long history of service, both in the United States military and in law enforcement for the sheriff,” White House adviser Tom Bossert said on ABC’s “This Week.”
“I think the president’s been pretty clear. It’s pretty straightforward that he believes that that long history of service merits this clemency, and he’s acted accordingly,” Mr. Bossert said.
On Friday, the White House announced that Mr. Trump was pardoning Mr. Arpaio, the former Maricopa County sheriff who made national headlines for his policies sweeping up illegal immigrants in Arizona.
Mr. Arpaio, who lost his bid for a seventh term in November, was convicted last month of ignoring a judge’s order to halt traffic stops that had identified illegal immigrants. He had not yet been sentenced.
“I think the Arpaio pardon is pretty straightforward,” Mr. Bossert said. “Just about every modern president ends up with some controversial pardons, but I think the president’s been pretty clear on it and I certainly don’t think it’s fair to characterize him as not caring about the rule of law.”
Mr. Bossert said he’s more focused at the moment on the devastation in East Texas amid Tropical Storm Harvey. The White House announced the pardon Friday evening as Texas was bracing for the impact of the storm, which made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane.
“My guess is that not too many people care about this one guy right now — they care about the millions of guys that are worried about their homes,” Mr. Bossert said.
Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York had said Mr. Trump was using the cover of the storm to avoid scrutiny from issuing the pardon.
“He’s clearly wrong,” Mr. Bossert said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “I don’t think that took up more than a minute of his time on Friday night.”
Some Republicans, including House Speaker Paul D. Ryan and Arizona Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake, have also criticized the move.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich said in an interview airing Sunday that he didn’t agree with what the president did.
“I wouldn’t have done it this way,” Mr. Kasich, a 2016 GOP primary opponent of Mr. Trump’s, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “It absolutely should be out of bounds for somebody to use that as some sort of political wedge. It appears as though that’s what it was.”