On Monday, Donald Trump was asked to explain his reasoning behind his pardon of Sheriff Joe Arpaio—a move made by the president while much of the country was fixated on Hurricane Harvey’s deviating landfall in Texas early Friday evening.
“Well, a lot of people think it was was the right thing to do, John,” Trump said when asked by Fox News’ John Roberts to respond to criticism over the pardon.
“And actually, even in the middle of a hurricane—even though it was a Friday evening—I assumed the ratings would be far higher than they would be normally,” Trump continued, framing this, like most other consequential decisions of his presidency, through the lens of televised popularity.
As if admitting to timing a presidential pardon for an unrepentant racist to coincide with a natural disaster in order to maximize ratings wasn’t bad enough, Trump nevertheless kept talking.
“[Arpaio has] done a great job for the people of Arizona,” Trump said. “He’s very strong on borders. Very strong on illegal immigration. He is loved in Arizona.” He was seemingly oblivious to the fact that half of Arizonans polled last week opposed the prospect of an Arpaio pardon—support for which dropped to a meager 15% for everyone 54-years-old and under.
“I stand by my pardon of Sheriff Joe,” Trump concluded. “And I think the people of Arizona who really know him best would agree with me.”
Considering the people of Arizona voted Arpaio out of office, and opposed pardoning him for his anti-immigrant crusade, I’m not so sure.