Trump says he pardoned Joe Arpaio in the middle of a hurricane for the TV ratings


In very Trumpian fashion, Donald Trump cited TV ratings while making excuses for his decision to pardon racist sheriff Joe Arpaio as Hurricane Harvey approached Texas.

Donald Trump predictably, and offensively, cited television ratings as part of a rambling defense of his decision to pardon racist Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio.

During a press conference with the president of Finland, Fox News reporter John Roberts asked Trump about the timing of his announcement, while Hurricane Harvey was making landfall in Texas.

"What do you say to your critics, even some in your own party, who say it was the wrong thing to do?" Roberts asked.

Trump's tone-deaf response?

After claiming that "a lot of people" agreed with his decision, he added, "I assumed the ratings would be far higher" because the announcement coincided with the storm coverage.

ROBERTS: In the middle of Hurricane Harvey hitting on Friday night, you chose to pardon former sheriff Joe Arpaio. I'm wondering if you could tell us what was behind your thinking for issuing a pardon for the sheriff, and as well, what do you say to your critics, even some in your own party, who say it was the wrong thing to do?

TRUMP: 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 would be normally, you know the hurricane was just starting and I put it out that I had pardoned as we call—as we say, "Sheriff Joe."

The remark is just the latest odd way in which Trump has spoken about the hurricane. He used his Twitter feed to make observational remarks about the killer storm, even as information pours in about the massive destruction that has been inflicted on southeastern Texas.

He also promoted a book from conservative figure Sherriff David Clarke (who has a terrible track record on human rights on par with Arpaio) and re-tweeted several conservative defenses of his actions.

Trump further claimed during the press conference that one reason he issued the pardon is because Arpaio is "loved" in Arizona. But in his last election, Arpaio — who was convicted of refusing to cease the practice of racial profiling — lost by nearly 13 percent to his Democratic opponent, Paul Penzone, even though Hillary Clinton narrowly lost Maricopa County, where Arpaio was sheriff.

The pardon also came in the same period that Trump issued a full-throated defense and justification for white supremacy, arguing that "very fine people" marched alongside neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Showing far more emotion than he showed when discussing the flooding and rescue efforts in Texas, Trump rambled on about pardons issued 17 years ago by President Bill Clinton, and President Barack Obama's decision to commute Chelsea Manning's sentence (not a pardon, despite Trump's rant).

What he wouldn't tell reporters, despite going on around the bend about his decision, are the sympathies with white supremacy that pushed him to the Arpaio decision — the same sympathies he loudly announced on the first day he began running for president.