Yet even as Trump championed tough measures against some criminals, he frequently assails these same law enforcement tactics when they are used to target his own supporters and business associates.
When federal agents raided the offices of Trump’s then-lawyer, Michael Cohen, this spring, Trump immediately accused them of overreach, calling the raid “a real disgrace. It’s an attack on our country in a true sense. It’s an attack on what we all stand for,” Trump said at the time.
Cohen has since pleaded guilty to eight felonies, and has said Trump instructed him to commit federal campaign finance violations, which Trump denied.
When Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, was detained ahead of his trial this summer on charges of tax evasion and illegal foreign lobbying, Trump again accused law enforcement of using overly harsh tactics.
“Wow, what a tough sentence for Paul Manafort, who has represented Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole and many other top political people and campaigns,” Trump tweeted on July 15, referring to a judge’s decision to remand Manafort to custody.
“Looking back on history, who was treated worse, Alfonse Capone [sic], legendary mob boss, killer and ‘Public Enemy Number One,’ or Paul Manafort, political operative & Reagan/Dole darling, now serving solitary confinement – although convicted of nothing?” Trump later wrote.
In at least one case, Trump went further than merely complaining about the tough treatment of those close to him.
In August 2017, Trump issued a full pardon to former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, sparing the one-time law enforcement officer potential jail time after Arpaio was found guilty of criminal contempt related to his harsh treatment of detainees in his custody.
“”Throughout his time as sheriff, Arpaio continued his life’s work of protecting the public from the scourges of crime and illegal immigration,” the White House said in a statement about Arpaio’s pardon. “Sheriff Joe Arpaio is now 85 years old, and after more than 50 years of admirable service to our nation, he is (a) worthy candidate for a Presidential pardon.” Arpaio was a strong supporter of Trump’s campaign for president in 2016.
The White House did not immediately respond Monday to questions from CNBC.