"Morning Joe" anchor Joe Scarborough said on Monday morning that if articles of impeachment are ever brought up against President Donald Trump, the pardoning of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio will be included among "the sort of things that are going to be attached in abuse of power."
Scarborough wondered aloud about the president's motivations behind pardoning Arpaio, who was convicted of crimes stemming from criminal contempt of court for unfairly targeting Hispanic citizens while rounding up illegal aliens.
"Law enforcement officers in Arizona have shunned this guy," Scarborough said of Arpaio. "The Bush administration started the investigation. This is obvious to Republicans and Democrats alike that this guy is a complete thug. He doesn't respect the rule of law, and Donald Trump — why did he do this?"
"Who knows," Scarborough mused. "Maybe it's throwing more red meat out there, but it's not even something Republicans support. Did he have the authority of do this? Yes, he had the authority to do this, but if articles of impeachment, years down the road, are ever brought up against this man, these are the sort of things that are going to be attached in abuse of process."
He added, "Jeff Flake said he didn't let a judicial process play itself out. He cut it short."
Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution, however, says that the president traditionally possesses the absolute power to "grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment."
To date, no sitting president has ever been impeached for exercising the power of presidential pardon.
While Trump's pardon of Arpaio isn't considered criminal, Congress does have the ability to include a controversial pardon by the president — as well as anything else they deem reasonable — in articles of impeachment.
The precedent that could be set by Trump's pardoning of Arpaio and perceived flouting of the law
Nick Confessore, political correspondent at The New York Times, also appeared on the Monday airing of "Morning Joe," and said that Trump's pardoning of Arpaio is especially problematic, as it sets the wrong precedent in respecting law enforcement.
"This is also a green light to the other Joe Arpaios out there," Confessore said. "And he is not the only one, but if you're the president and your policy is to get tougher ... on illegal immigration, this tells other sheriffs, other law enforcement, people of ICE, it's okay to blur the lines."
"It's okay to go over the line," Confessore added. "That is not the law."
Scarborough also added that Trump's recent "rough 'em up" comments to New York police with regard to suspect handling were also concerning.
Trump, during a July law enforcement and immigration policy speech in Long Island, N.Y.. said, "When you see these thugs thrown into the back of a paddy wagon. You see them thrown in, rough. I said, 'Please don't be too nice.'"
"I said, 'You can take the hand away,'" the president added.
About Trump's comments to law enforcement, Scarborough said that his rhetoric only makes police officers' jobs "more difficult."
He continued, "The worst damage that's been done, though, has been done to Donald Trump in the eyes of the judiciary. They once again see that this man acts like an autocrat, he has no respect for judges, and certainly he's shown he's got no respect for federal judges."
See Scarborough's comments in the video below.