Trump's pardon of Arpaio spurs more criticism, including from Biden, Paul Ryan

Biden said Trump's pardon of Arpaio shows "the truth of this president."

August 27, 2017, 10:48 AM

— -- Criticism of President Donald Trump's pardon of controversial former Sheriff Joe Arpaio is growing, with figures as different as former Vice President Joe Biden and Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan weighing in.

Trump pardoned the former sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, on Friday night for his conviction on criminal contempt of a federal court order that he stop detaining people based on their immigration status. Arpaio's long record also included housing some prisoners in an outdoor "tent city" where temperatures reached the triple digits and using chain gangs.

Democrat Biden said Trump's pardon of Arpaio shows "the truth of this president."

"He won’t stop," Biden wrote in an opinion piece today in The Atlantic. "His contempt for the U.S. Constitution and willingness to divide this nation knows no bounds."

"Now he’s pardoned a law-enforcement official who terrorized the Latino community, violated its constitutional rights, defied a federal court order to stop, and ran a prison system so rife with torture and abuse he himself called it a 'concentration camp,'” the former vice president wrote.

House Speaker Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, expressed his disagreement through a spokesman and with milder language than Biden.

"Law-enforcement officials have a special responsibility to respect the rights of everyone in the United States," Ryan spokesman Doug Andres said in the statement. "We should not allow anyone to believe that responsibility is diminished by this pardon."

Following the pardon, The Washington Post on Saturday reported, citing unnamed sources, that the president asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions this past spring whether he would drop the federal case against Arpaio. Sessions told Trump it would be inappropriate for him to interfere in the federal case against Arpaio, according to the newspaper.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders did not outright deny that the pair had a conversation about Arpaio. "It’s only natural the president would have a discussion with administration lawyers about legal matters," she said Saturday. "This case would be no different."

As for lawmakers' reactions, Arizona's two Republican U.S. senators and the chairman of the Texas Federation of Hispanic Republicans slammed Trump's pardon of Arpaio while others in the party largely remained silent on the matter into the weekend.

Here's a look at some reaction to the pardon.

Some Republicans say pardon undermines respect for 'rule of law'

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.

Artemio Temo Muniz, chair of the Texas Federation of Hispanic Republicans

Democrats called the pardon 'shameful and appalling'

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton

"Pardoning Joe Arpaio is a slap in the face to the people of Maricopa County, especially the Latino community and those he victimized as he systematically and illegally violated their civil rights," Stanton said.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

The New York senator accused Trump of deliberately making the controversial move at a time when the nation was focused on Hurricane Harvey.

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn.

Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz.

Trump chose 'lawlessness over justice,' the ACLU says

Mexican American Legal Defense Fund

The Mexican American Legal Defense Fund, known as MALDEF, a leading Latino advocacy organization, called the pardon of Arpaio "a craven and gratuitous abuse of presidential power."

"The Latino community will remember this Friday night torchlight pardon -- in history and at the next election," the MALDEF statement said.

American Civil Liberties Union

"With his pardon of Arpaio, Trump has chosen lawlessness over justice, division over unity, hurt over healing. Once again, the president has acted in support of illegal, failed immigration enforcement practices that target people of color and have been struck down by the courts. His pardon of Arpaio is a presidential endorsement of racism." - Deputy Legal Director Cecilia Wang


The pardon won approval from some Arizona Republicans

Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz.

Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz.

Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz.


Kelli Ward, candidate for 2018 Arizona Republican U.S. Senate primary

Related Topics

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events