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Speaker Ryan 'does not agree' with Trump's pardon of Arpaio

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan became one of a few top Republicans to publicly disagree with President Trump's pardon of former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, as lawmakers in Congress have become more willing to distance themselves from the White House, especially on issues of race.

"The speaker does not agree with this decision," said Ryan spokesman Doug Andres. "Law enforcement officials have a special responsibility to respect the rights of everyone in the United States. We should not allow anyone to believe that responsibility is diminished by this pardon."

Republicans tread carefully when leveling criticism of Trump or his administration's approach to issues, fearful of turning off their supporters who back the president. Few Republicans in Congress spoke publicly after Trump's pardon Friday of Arpaio, the former sheriff convicted of defying a court order to stop his department's racial profiling of Latino residents suspected of illegally immigrating to Arizona.

The state's two senators, John McCain and Jeff Flake, both expressed their disapproval. But they both have already endured Trump's high-profile rebukes for their differences with the administration. 

Only after Trump's handling of the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., did larger numbers of Republicans in Congress publicly break from their party's president. Lawmakers could not withstand having their party linked to any equivocation over the neo-Nazi groups.  

Ryan spoke up against Trump last week, stating the president "messed up" in responding to Charlottesville.

But criticizing Trump carries risks as evident in Ryan's statement on the Arpaio pardon. It was not disseminated broadly, through a press release or on social media or Twitter, but only given upon request. 

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