President Trump on Monday defended his pardon of Joe Arpaio, a move that has drawn ire on both sides of the political aisle. The controversial former Arizona sheriff is "very strong on borders, very strong on illegal immigration," Trump said at a news conference. "He is loved in Arizona. I thought he was treated unbelievably unfairly." He added that he purposely pardoned Arpaio during Hurricane Harvey because he "assumed the ratings would be far higher than they would be normally" for his announcement of the pardon, CNN reports. The Washington Post notes that, on the contrary, the timing of Trump's announcement seemed to be an attempt at a "classic 'news dump,' coming as the nation focused on the impending storm."
"Sheriff Joe is a patriot. Sheriff Joe loves our country. Sheriff Joe protected our borders. And Sheriff Joe was very unfairly treated by the Obama administration," Trump continued. "I stand by my pardon of Joe Arpaio and I think the people of Arizona who really know him best would agree with me." He also noted that then-President Bill Clinton pardoned Marc Rich, the husband of a big donor, and suggested that then-President Barack Obama may have pardoned Chelsea Manning, but in actuality Obama only commuted Manning's sentence. At the same press conference Monday, Trump declined to name Russia as a security threat, the AP reports. (Meanwhile, Arpaio may have political ambitions.)