WASHINGTON – In Washington, reaction to President Donald Trump’s pardon of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio was swift and strong.
All four Arizona Democrats, as well as the Arizona Democratic Party, issued statements within an hour of the pardon that accused the president of violating the rule of law, endorsing racism and bigotry and abusing his office and the power to pardon.
In an emailed statement, Rep. Tom O’Halleran, D-Sedona, a former police officer, said Arpaio betrayed the public trust and should be held accountable.
“In pardoning Joe Arpaio, President Trump undermines the judicial process while handing out political favors to a campaign supporter,” O’Halleran’s statement said.
Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Phoenix, reacted in a series of tweets that she was “dismayed by the president’s decision … Arpaio hurt Arizonans & cost taxpayers a great amount of grief & money. He should be held accountable. No one is above the law.”
On the Republican side, the reaction from Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake – who spars often with Trump – was more measured than most. He tweeted Friday that he “would have preferred that the President honor the judicial process and let it take its course” on Arpaio, who has yet to be sentenced and still can appeal.
Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, another Trump critic, was more blunt, saying in a tweet that Arpaio “illegally profiled Latinos” and saying the president’s action undermines “the respect of the rule of law.”
But other Arizona Republicans were aggressive in their defense of the president’s action.
Flake’s likely 2018 primary opponent, Kelli Ward, thanked Trump for pardoning “a patriot who did the job the Feds refused to do.”
Rep. Trent Franks, R-Glendale, praised the Arpaio pardon, comparing it to former President Barack Obama’s decision to commute the sentence of former Army intelligence officer Chelsea Manning, who was convicted after leaking documents to WikiLeaks. Franks said in an emailed statement that “Obama commuted the prison sentence of … a treasonous intelligence analyst.”
“While no one can dispute Manning acted to undermine our country’s national security, Joe Arpaio has spent a lifetime trying to maintain it,” Franks said in his statement. “Comparing the two, it is easy to discern that Arpaio is a patriot, while Manning is a traitor.”