As millions of Texans braced themselves for Hurricane Harvey, President Donald Trump announced he had pardoned former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who a judge recently found guilty for his failure to follow a 2011 judge’s order to put an end to the racial profiling of Latinos. On Monday, Trump explained the reasoning behind his choice. “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 said Monday during a press conference with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö, according to The Hill. “You know, the hurricane was just starting.”
Though some have accused him of trying to announce the pardon at a time when it would fly under the radar, Trump has, in essence, said that he planned for the exact opposite. That means that at a time newscasters should have been providing invaluable information to Texans about a storm that ended up devastating Houston and other cities near the Gulf Coast, he wanted them to take time to discuss his decision.
It was going to be a controversial choice no matter when Trump announced it, but doing it in the middle of Hurricane Harvey has proved to many that even in the middle of a life-threatening storm, he stands with white supremacy. Arpaio tyrannized black and brown communities for two decades. He stepped outside or ignored the law so he could enact discriminatory policies, some of which still affect those he targeted, despite being unseated in November. Trump stating that the Barack Obama-era Justice Department had political motivations to charge the sheriff doesn’t change the fact that Arpaio didn’t follow a judge’s order.
Check out a brief history of Arpaio sidestepping the law here, or check out Phoenix New Times‘ Twitter thread about the many ways that he abused his power: