Donald Trump this afternoon defended his pardon of Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, saying he did it on Friday night as Hurricane Harvey bore down on Houston because he assumed TV ratings would be higher:
“Well, a lot of people think it was the right thing to do, John, and actually, in the middle of a hurricane, even though it was a Friday evening, I assumed the ratings would be far higher than they were normally. The hurricane was just starting. and I put out that I pardoned, as we call Sheriff Joe. 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 when they came down with their big decision to go get him right before the election voting started, as you know, and he lost in a fairly close election. He would have won the election but they just hammered him just before the election. I thought this was a very, very unfair thing to do. When I mentioned him the other night, you saw the massive crowd we had.”
Trump also read off a prepared list of names of people pardoned by past presidents — including transgender Wikileaker Chelsea Manning — to justify his own.