In a Monday night panel on CNN, one presidential historian used harsh terms to describe President Donald Trump’s bizarre defense of the timing of his pardon for racist ex-sheriff Joe Arpaio.
Earlier in the evening, Trump told a crowd of Finnish media that he announced his pardon as Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Houston Friday night on purpose.
“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 during his joint press conference with Finland’s President, Sauli Niinistö. “You know, the hurricane was just starting.
Rice University professor and presidential historian Douglas Brinkley said he was “incredulous” that the president would bring up “ratings” when discussing a deadly hurricane.
“He pardoned someone who was seen as a race-baiter, anti-Latino, somebody who is really the kingpin of racial profiling,” Brinkley said. “And he pardons him in the middle of a catastrophic category four storm slamming into the Texas coast and has the gall in the East Room of the White House to say that he did it for TV ratings.”
Regardless of the reasoning behind the pardon, Brinkley continued, Trump failed at the optics of doing so during a hurricane.
“Clearly Friday wasn’t the right time, but he’s proud as a rooster over it,” he concluded. “And I find it a bit demented.”
Watch the entire segment below, via CNN.
Watch the video below via CNN: