Trump defends Arpaio pardon, calls former
sheriff a 'patriot'
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[August 29, 2017]
By Jeff Mason
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President
Donald Trump on Monday defended his controversial pardon of former
Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted of criminal contempt in a
racial profiling case that highlighted tensions over immigration policy
in the United States.
Trump, a Republican who has promised to build a wall along the U.S.
border with Mexico, found a kindred spirit of sorts in Arpaio, whose
tactics as a law enforcement agent in Arizona's Maricopa County drew
condemnation from civil rights groups.
Arpaio was convicted late last month of willfully violating a 2011
injunction barring his officers from stopping and detaining Latino
motorists solely on suspicion that they were in the country illegally.
Asked at a White House news conference about broad criticism of the
pardon, including from some in his own party, Trump said Arpaio had not
been treated fairly, and he criticized previous U.S. presidents for
pardons and commutations of their own.
"A lot of people think it was the right thing to do," Trump said of the
pardon, which he had foreshadowed at a political rally in Phoenix last
"He's done a great job for the people of Arizona. He's very strong on
borders, very strong on illegal immigration. He is loved in Arizona. I
thought he was treated unbelievably unfairly," Trump said.
The White House announced Trump's pardon of the 85-year-old on Friday
night as Hurricane Harvey was threatening Texas with devastating floods.
Trump, a former reality television star, said he thought television
ratings the night of the announcement would have been good because of
Trump was ready for the question at a news conference with Finnish
President Sauli Niinisto. He pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket
with a list of similar actions by President Bill Clinton and President
Barack Obama that also drew controversy.
[to top of second column]
President Donald Trump speaks during a joint press conference with
Finnish President Sauli Niinisto at the White House in Washington,
U.S., August 28, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
"President Clinton pardoned Marc Rich, who was charged with crimes
going back decades," Trump said.
Clinton's pardon of Rich for tax evasion, racketeering and violating
sanctions with Iran, drew widespread criticism.
"President Obama commuted the sentence of Chelsea Manning, who
leaked countless sensitive and classified documents to WikiLeaks,
perhaps and others. But a horrible, horrible thing that he did.
Commuted the sentence and perhaps pardoned."
Obama did not pardon Manning, who provided documents, videos and
diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks, but he shortened her sentence to
seven years from 35.
Arpaio campaigned for Trump in 2016 and investigated unfounded
claims that Obama was not born in the United States, a falsehood
that Trump also espoused for years.
"Sheriff Joe is a patriot. Sheriff Joe loves our country. Sheriff
Joe protected our borders," Trump said. "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."
(Additional reporting by Mohammad Zargham; Editing by James
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