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Donald Trump Pardoned Joe Arpaio During Hurricane Harvey Because TV Ratings Would Be ‘Far Higher’

President Donald Trump said that he chose to pardon former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio during Hurricane Harvey because he was hoping for higher television ratings.

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Trump, 71, spoke about his controversial decision to issue a pardon after Arpaio was convicted last month of criminal contempt of court for refusing to obey an order to stop detaining undocumented immigrants.

Donald Trump and Joe Arpaio
Donald Trump and Joe Arpaio during rally at Marshalltown, Iowa in 2016. Scott Olson/Getty Images

The former Apprentice host defended the timing of the announcement amid devastation in Texas and Louisiana from the hurricane. “A lot of people think it was the right thing to do,” the POTUS said during a joint press conference with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto on Monday, August 28. “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. You know the hurricane was just starting. And I put it out that I had pardoned, as we call, Sheriff Joe.”

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The president continued to praise Arpaio. “He’s done a great job for the people of Arizona. He’s very strong on border. He’s very strong on illegal immigration. He is loved in Arizona,” he continued. “I thought he was treated unbelievably unfairly.”

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Trump added that he’s a “great veteran of the military” and “a great law enforcement person,” and he stands by his decision. “I stand by my pardon of Sheriff Joe and I think the people of Arizona who really know him best would agree with me,” he concluded.

The former Trump Organization CEO also read off a list of controversial people who were pardoned by former presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, including businessman Marc Rich and Chelsea Manning

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