President Donald Trump insisted Aug. 28 he made the right call by pardoning former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
His decision means Arpaio will not serve a prison term for a criminal contempt violation, CNN reported.
Trump noted that he timed his announcement to coincide with the arrival in Texas of Hurricane Harvey.
"I assumed the ratings would be far higher than they would be normally," Trump said Aug. 28, CNN reported.
Even some within the Republican Party have questioned Trump's decision.
Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake from Arizona both condemned the decision.
"The President has the authority to make this pardon, but doing so at this time undermines his claim for the respect of rule of law as Mr. Arpaio has shown no remorse for his actions," McCain stated, according to Politico.
Ana Navarro argued on CNN that Trump had "abused power," and referred to a report in which he asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions to drop the legal case against Arpaio, The Hill reported.
Democratic Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer also spoke out.
"Joe Arpaio ignored the courts of law in order to systemically target latinos in AZ. Definition of racism & bigotry," Schumer wrote on Twitter, Politico reported.
But Trump maintained he had made the correct decision.
"He is loved in Arizona," Trump added, according to CNN. "I thought he was treated unbelievably unfairly."
He even praised Arpaio.
"Sheriff Joe is a great veteran of the military, great law enforcement person," added Trump.
"Sheriff Joe is a patriot," the president said. "Sheriff Joe loves our country. Sheriff Joe protected our borders. And Sheriff Joe was very unfairly treated by the Obama administration. I stand by my pardon."
Others have criticized both Arpaio and Trump's pardon of him, pointing to allegations that the former sheriff mistreated prisoners and conducted racial profiling. Some of his practices, including operating overheated prisons, have been linked to deaths.
Voters in Arizona rejected Arpaio in the November 216 election.
Some observers are warning that Arpaio's pardon sets a dangerous precedent.
"In situations where democracies become right-wing regimes, the leader usually relies on paramilitary or other extremist forces to get into office or consolidate power once he's there," New York University Professor Ruth Ben-Ghiat said, according to The Washington Post. "He has to dance the line between expelling them and using them. Trump's expulsion of [White House ultra-nationalists] Stephen Bannon and Sebastian Gorka, coming together with his open support of white nationalism and now his pardon of Joe Arpaio, shows this dynamic well."