One of the more controversial moves of President Donald Trump's political career (one full of controversy) came on Friday evening when he announced his intention to pardon Joe Arpaio —the former Maricopa County, Arizona sheriff convicted of criminal contempt for continuing to racially profile and detain people he suspected of being undocumented immigrants (despite being ordered by a judge to stop).
Adding yet another layer to the controversy? The former reality star-turned president said on Monday that he announced the pardon on Friday — during the beginning of Hurricane Harvey coverage — because he thought it would have better "ratings."
While many, including Senate Minority Leader and New York Senator Chuck Schumer, alleged that Trump's timing on Friday was "using the cover of the storm" (AKA a move called a "news dump") to avoid scrutiny, Trump himself said during a press conference with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö that he wanted the story to be big.
“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,” Trump said.
As millions of people in TX and LA are prepping for the hurricane, the President is using the cover of the storm to 1/
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) August 26, 2017
The move of pardoning Arpaio did lead to significant outrage, storm or not.
As the Washington Post reported, Arpaio's reputation as being particularly cruel to hispanic individuals was well-documented. His local paper the Phoenix News Times compiled an exhaustive list of their coverage of his various controversies on Twitter, including allegations that he ran "concentration camp"-like tent-city prisons that had several instances of unexplained deaths of prisoners and documented cases of unnecessarily violent/aggressive treatment from guards.
We've been covering Joe Arpaio for more than 20 years. Here's a couple of things you should know about him... 1/many
— PhoenixNewTimes (@phoenixnewtimes) August 26, 2017
Given the widespread condemnation of Trump's pardon from all sides of the political spectrum, the only ratings the President should probably be considering right now are his historically low approval ratings.