Trump Says He’s Considering Pardoning Joe Arpaio
On the same day that he finally spoke up about the racist-inspired violence in Charlottesville, Donald Trump told a reporter that he is considering pardoning former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was recently convicted of failing to comply with the order of a Federal Judge:
President Trump told Fox News he is “seriously considering” issuing a pardon for former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted last month of criminal contempt for ignoring a judge’s order to stop detaining people because he merely suspected them of being undocumented immigrants.
Trump told the news outlet during a conversation in Bedminster, N.J., that the pardon could come quickly, perhaps in a matter of days. The news outlet reported the conversation on its website Monday.
“I might do it right away, maybe early this week. I am seriously thinking about it,” Trump said, according to Fox News. He said Arpaio was a “great American patriot” who had “done a lot in the fight against illegal immigration.”
“Is there anyone in local law enforcement who has done more to crack down on illegal immigration than Sheriff Joe?” Trump said, according to Fox News. “He has protected people from crimes and saved lives. He doesn’t deserve to be treated this way.”
Arpaio, whose extreme stance and tactics on illegal immigration made him a household name, was convicted of criminal contempt last month by a federal judge in Arizona. He faces up to six months in prison at his sentencing, which is scheduled for Oct. 5. Jack Wilenchik, Arpaio’s attorney, said after Arpaio was convicted that the former sheriff would appeal to get a jury trial, and that the judge’s conclusion was “contrary to what every single witness testified in the case.”
As I noted earlier this summer, Arpaio was convicted by a Federal Judge of failing to comply with Court orders regarding the operation of his department and faces sentencing later this year, although it seems unlikely that he’d actually spend significant time in jail given his advanced age. While a pardon in this case would no doubt be controversial, it would not be surprising given the relationship between Trump and Arpaio. Most recently, Arpaio endorsed Trump for President during the race for the Republican nomination and, before that, had worked with Trump during the 2012 campaign when Trump became the most prominent voice in the birther movement that questioned former President Obama’s eligibility to serve. Of course, given Arpaio’s questionable history on race relations, the fact that Trump would choose to make this kind of announcement today after having made his statement about Charlottesville is, to say the least, revealing.