EXCLUSIVE: President Trump may soon issue a pardon for Joe Arpaio, the colorful former Arizona sheriff who was found guilty two weeks ago of criminal contempt for defying a state judges order to prevent traffic patrols targeting suspected undocumented immigrants. In his final years as Maricopa County sheriff, Arpaio had emerged as a leading opponent of illegal immigration.
I am seriously considering a pardon for Sheriff Arpaio, the president said Sunday, through a conversation with Fox News in his team in Bedminster, N.J.. He’s done a lot . Hes a great American patriot and I hate to see what’s happened to him.
Trump said the pardon could happen within the next few days, should he decide to do so.
Arpaio, 85, was convicted by U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton of misdemeanor contempt of court for willfully ignoring an Arizona judges order in 2011 to stop the anti-immigrant traffic patrols. Arpaio had maintained the law enforcement patrols for 17 months thereafter.
The guy who built a controversial national reputation as Americas toughest sheriff admitted he extended his patrols, but insisted he did not mean to break the law because one of his former attorneys didn’t explain to him the complete measure of constraints contained in the court order.
He’s expected to be sentenced on Oct. 5 and could face up to six months in prison. However, since he has no prior convictions and is 85 years old, some attorneys doubt he will receive any jail time.
‘Is there anyone in local law enforcement who has done more to crack down on illegal immigration than Sheriff Joe?’
Citing his service as an sheriff, the president said Arpaio is admired by many Arizona taxpayers who respected his approach.
Arpaios broadly publicized tactics included forcing inmates to wear pink underwear and housing them where temperatures frequently climbed beyond 100 degrees Fahrenheit. He also controversially brought chain gains back, including a voluntary chain gang for women prisoners.
Prisoner advocates and civil liberties as well as supporters of immigrants rights have criticized Arpaio for decades. This past year, he lost his bid.
Is there anyone in law enforcement who has done more to crack down on illegal immigration than Sheriff Joe? asked Trump. He saved lives and has protected people from crimes. He doesnt deserve to be treated this way.
Preventing the flow of undocumented immigrants across the southern U.S. boundary was a central theme of the presidents campaign. Arpaio endorsed Trump in January 2016.
Trump signaled he may move quickly should he decide to issue a pardon. This week, I might do it right away. I am seriously considering it.
Trump could decide to await the outcome of an appeal by Arpaios attorneys who contend their clients case should have been decided by a jury, not a judge.
In a statement after the verdict, his attorneys said, The judges verdict is contrary to what each witness testified in the case. Arpaio believes that a jury could have found in his favor, and that it will.
Reached Monday for response to the pardon that was possible, Arpaio expressed surprise that Trump was conscious of his predicament.
I am happy he understands the situation, he told Fox News. I would accept the pardon because I am 100 percent not guilty.
The sheriff said regardless of whether a pardon is received by him he will continue to be a strong supporter of the president. But he also voiced concern that a pardon might cause problems for Trump, saying, I would never ask him to get a pardon if it causes heat. I dont need to do.
Trump hasn’t granted any pardons thus far.
Gregg Jarrett is a Fox News Anchor and former defense attorney.
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