Christie criticizes Trump’s Arpaio pardon

Toluse Olorunnipa
Bloomberg News

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said he disagreed with President Donald Trump’s pardon of former Phoenix-area sheriff Joe Arpaio, becoming the latest Republican to criticize the controversial move.

“One of the prerequisites you look for in giving a pardon is contrition for what you were convicted of. I didn’t see that in Sheriff Arpaio,” said Christie, a former U.S. attorney, on Wednesday on MSNBC. “This is not one that I would’ve done.”

Trump has drawn broad criticism from across the political spectrum for his Aug. 25 pardon of Arpaio, who was convicted of federal misdemeanor criminal contempt this year after a judge found he had defied a court order to stop targeting Latinos with sweeps of suspected undocumented immigrants.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, a fellow Republican, said through a spokesman that he disagreed with the pardon.

“Law enforcement officials have a special responsibility to respect the rights of everyone in the United States,” Ryan spokesman Doug Andres said in an email. “We should not allow anyone to believe that responsibility is diminished by this pardon.”

Arizona’s two Republican senators, John McCain and Jeff Flake, also criticized the move.

Trump defended his decision during a press conference Monday, saying Arpaio was unfairly prosecuted.

Arpaio, who served for 24 years as the sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, was defeated in last year’s election and has maintained his innocence.

In an interview with the Washington Examiner, Arpaio, 85, said he was contemplating re-entering the political fray, possibly with a primary challenge of Flake next year.

Christie also criticized the president’s personal attacks on the judiciary, saying Trump’s comments last year highlighting the Mexican heritage of a U.S.-born judge were “unacceptable.”

Despite his criticism, Christie said he believed questions about Trump’s fitness for office were “ridiculous.”

He expressed hope that Trump will grow into the office and achieve more policy victories in the months ahead.

“We haven’t gotten things done,” Christie said. “We’re sitting here seven months in and we haven’t put touchdowns in the end zone.”