President Donald Trump said Sunday that he was considering pardoning former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted of criminal contempt of court in July.
“I am seriously considering a pardon for Sheriff Arpaio,” Trump told Fox News on Sunday in an interview from his Bedminster, New Jersey golf club. “He has done a lot in the fight against illegal immigration. He’s a great American patriot and I hate to see what has happened to him.”
“Is there anyone in local law enforcement who has done more to crack down on illegal immigration than Sheriff Joe?” Trump added. “He has protected people from crimes and saved lives. He doesn’t deserve to be treated this way.”
Arpaio, who lost a re-election bid after 24 years in office last November, was convicted on July 31 of criminal contempt of court for refusing to follow a judges’ orders to stop his practice of racially profiling individuals for traffic stops and detention who law enforcement officials believed could be undocumented immigrants.
Arpaio said last week that he was “not going to ask him,” about a pardon, referring to Trump, but that “many, many people around the country are saying, ‘Trump should pardon.’”
Responding to Trump’s statement, Arpaio told Fox News: “I am happy he understands the case,” and “I would accept the pardon because I am 100 percent not guilty.”
Apraio was an early and fervent supporter of the President during the 2016 campaign. Trump referred to him as “Sheriff Joe.” The former sheriff has also gained infamy for what were widely viewed as inhumane detention practices.
This post has been updated.