Former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio says the pardon “shows how [Trump] backs up law enforcement.” Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) says the pardon “undermines [Trump’s] claim for the respect of rule of law.”
President Trump pardoned former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio for his criminal contempt conviction, removing the only legal consequences the lawman faced stemming from a long-running racial-profiling suit, the Arizona Republic reports. The White House announced the pardon Friday evening in a news release that recounted Arpaio’s lengthy career of “admirable service” in federal and local law enforcement and called him “a worthy candidate for a Presidential pardon.” Arpaio said, “I’m very appreciative of the president issuing that pardon. It shows how he backs up law enforcement.” Arpaio, who lost a 2016 re-election bid ending 24 years in office, hinted the pardon could set up a political comeback: “I told my wife that I was through with politics. But now I’ve decided I’m not through with politics because of what’s happening.” Arpaio plans a news conference to discuss the “abuse” of the justice system.
Arpaio, 85, was convicted of criminal contempt on July 31, and was scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 5. Trump and Arpaio have enjoyed a warm relationship since the early days of Trump’s presidential campaign. They share a hard-line stance on immigration, and Arpaio was one of the earliest public figures to offer Trump his full-throated endorsement. Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican whom Arpaio endorsed during Ducey’s 2014 run for governor, said the former sheriff deserves credit for his long tenure in law enforcement and public service. U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), said that while the pardon is within the president’s authority, “doing so at this time undermines his claim for the respect of rule of law as Mr. Arpaio has shown no remorse for his actions.”