Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) released a statement on Friday criticizing President Donald Trump’s decision to pardon former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the controversial Arizona lawman who was convicted in July of misdemeanor contempt of court.
“No one is above the law and the individuals entrusted with the privilege of being sworn law officers should always seek to be beyond reproach in their commitment to fairly enforcing the laws they swore to uphold,” McCain said.
“Mr. Arpaio was found guilty of criminal contempt for continuing to illegally profile Latinos living in Arizona based on their perceived immigration status in violation of a judge’s orders,” he continued. “The President has the authority to make this pardon, but doing so at this time undermines his claim for the respect of rule of law as Mr. Arpaio has shown no remorse for his actions.”
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) echoed McCain’s sentiments on Twitter, writing: “Regarding the Arpaio pardon, I would have preferred the President honor the judicial process and let it take its course.”
Regarding the Arpaio pardon, I would have preferred that the President honor the judicial process and let it take its course.
— Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) August 26, 2017
In July, Arpaio was convicted of criminal contempt by a federal judge by refusing another federal judge’s order not to detain people suspected of being illegal immigrants. The crime carried a sentence of up to six months in prison, as well as heavy fines.
On Friday evening, the White House announced that Trump would pardon the 85-year-old former sheriff and heaped praise upon Arpaio.
“Arpaio’s life and career, which began at the age of 18 when he enlisted in the military after the outbreak of the Korean War, exemplifies selfless public service,” the White House said in a statement. “After more than fifty years of admirable service to our Nation, he is a worthy candidate for a Presidential pardon.”
Trump received Arpaio’s endorsement back in January 2016, while he was still seeking the Republican nomination.
“I have fought on the front lines to prevent illegal immigration,” Arpaio said at the time. “I know Donald Trump will stand with me and countless Americans to secure our border.”