Ohio Gov. John Kasich has joined the ranks of Republicans criticizing President Trump for pardoning former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, saying Sunday that the president created a “political wedge” with his action.
“I wouldn’t have done it this way,” Kasich said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“It should be out of bounds for somebody to use that as a sort of political wedge,” added Kasich, who is a frequent Trump critic. “It appears that’s what it was.”
Arpaio was convicted last month of criminal contempt of court for ignoring an earlier court order to stop detaining people on suspicion that they had undocumented status. He was facing up to six months in jail in a sentencing scheduled for Oct. 5, but Trump pardoned him on Friday night.
A federal judge had ruled in 2011 that Arpaio had engaged in illegal racial profiling, ordering him to stop detaining anyone not suspected of a state or federal crime. Trump didn’t specifically address the charges against Arpaio, instead defending the former sheriff for “doing his job.”
Several leading Republicans, including both of Arizona’s GOP senators and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis.), have also said they don’t support Trump’s move, with some suggesting the president was undermining his claim to respect the rule of law.
Arizona Sen. John McCain noted that Trump pardoned Arpaio even though he’d “shown no remorse” for his actions. A spokesman for Ryan said the speaker doesn’t agree with the decision.
“Law enforcement officials have a special responsibility to respect the rights of everyone in the United States,” spokesman Doug Andres said. “We should not allow anyone to believe that responsibility is diminished by this pardon.”
But Ryan hasn’t directed any congressional committees to look into the matter — nor would Kasich call on him to do so. Asked by host Chuck Todd whether Ryan should ask the House Judiciary Committee to scrutinize the pardon, Kasich said the speaker has plenty of other things to worry about right now, like gathering consensus around health-care and tax revision bills.
“We got enough problems [than] to start figuring out why [Trump] did this,” Kasich said. “I don’t know — I think we just keep grinding this down.”