It's a familiar cycle, and the pardoning of Sheriff Joe Arpaio fits right into what's happening
- Trump does something lawless or crazy or racist
- Speaker Paul Ryan is dismayed
- Nothing happens
- Trump does something else that is lawless or crazy or racist
So, in effect, the Speaker of the House is a man who doesn't have the balls to stand up to Donald Trump:
"The speaker does not agree with the decision. 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."
When a President and a Speaker are from the same party, the general consensus of history is that there is more of a rivalry between them, and that the Speaker is a check on the President's power. This is certainly more of a case when they are from different parties, but, by and large, we have not had a situation like Trump in the modern era.
Speaker Ryan should be a check on the president's power, but he isn't. That's not only disturbing but it also threatens the institution of the Congress in ways that are not fully appreciated right now. If Republicans actually have to get rid of Trump, how can they when Ryan has never held Trump accountable? His statements need to be translated into actions. That's not what's going on.
Trump is the destruction of all normal ways of operating and doing business. So, the very real power and threat from a normal Speaker of the House would mean that Trump would not have carried out such a pardon of Sheriff Joe Arpaio--it would not have been considered because Arpaio was convicted under Federal law by Federal prosecutors this calendar year. A normal pardon would require several years to have passed, for the person being pardoned to acknowledge their guilt, and for the Justice Department to review the case and make a recommendation. These are not all of the standard or criteria, but they are what is basically understood about a presidential pardon.
None of that has been followed. The president pardoned a racist individual who abused the civil rights of the citizens of his county. To say that we have no precedent for this is an understatement. We have no check on Trump's power right now, and that is due entirely to the obviously de-balled status of Paul Ryan.