Three weeks ago we reported about the conviction of Joe Arpaio. Now President Donald Trump pardoned Joe Arpaio on Friday, saving the controversial former Arizona sheriff from going to prison after he was convicted of criminal contempt linked to his hard-line tactics moving after undocumented immigrants.
The movement drew outcry from civil rights groups, which accuse Arpaio of violating the Constitution in his crackdown on illegal immigration.
During last year's presidential campaign, Arpaio was a vocal proponent of Trump's candidacy and used his national notoriety to urge Trump's similarly aggressive stance on border security and deportations.
In a brief statement released late Friday evening, the White House praised Arpaio's career.
“During his time as sheriff, Arpaio continued his life's work of protecting the general public from the scourges of crime and illegal immigration,” the announcement read. “Sheriff Joe Arpaio is now 85 years old, and after over 50 years of admirable service to our state, he's (a) worthy candidate for a Presidential pardon.”
Arpaio thanked Trump on Twitter.
Thank you @realdonaldtrump for seeing my conviction for what it is: a political witch hunt by holdovers in the Obama justice department!
— Sheriff Joe Arpaio (@RealSheriffJoe) August 26, 2017
Arpaio continued: “I'm humbled and exceptionally grateful to President Trump. I look fwd to placing this chapter supporting me and helping to #MAGA”
He said in a Fox News interview Friday that he would hold a news conference early next week to talk about the pardon. Trump didn't consult Justice Department
The pardon is the first of Trump's presidency, though he didn't follow his predecessors' practice of consulting with attorneys at the Justice Department before announcing his decision.
“This is the President's pardon,” a source with knowledge of the decision said. Under the Constitution, Trump is allowed wide leeway in issuing pardons. There are no prerequisites for consultation within the government before a decision is announced.
“The President exercised his legal authority and we respect his decision,” said Ian Prior, a Justice Department spokesman. Trump hinted in his decision earlier this week through a raucous campaign rally in Phoenix. “So was Sheriff Joe was convicted for doing his job?” Trump queried his assistants. “I will make a prediction. I believe he is going to be just fine, OK.”
Trump tweeted Friday night about his decision:
I am pleased to inform you that I have just granted a full Pardon to 85 year old American patriot Sheriff Joe Arpaio. He kept Arizona safe!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 26, 2017
Arpaio, who had been sheriff in Maricopa County, Arizona, until this past year, was found guilty of criminal contempt last month for ignoring a court order in a racial-profiling case. His sentencing was scheduled for October 5.
“Not only did (Arpaio) abdicate responsibility, he declared to the world as well as his subordinates that he was going to continue business as usual regardless of who said differently,” US District Judge Susan Bolton wrote in a July 31 order finding him guilty.