Donald Trump considers pardoning Joe Arpaio, sheriff who violated court order on racial profiling

The President says he may pardon Mr Arpaio as early as this week

Emily Shugerman
New York
Monday 14 August 2017 20:12 BST
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio gestures to the crowd as he delivers a speech on the fourth day of the Republican National Convention
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio gestures to the crowd as he delivers a speech on the fourth day of the Republican National Convention (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Donald Trump has said he is “seriously considering” pardoning Joe Arpaio, the former Arizona sheriff who was recently found guilty of criminal contempt for violating a court order that mandated his officers stop racially profiling Latinos.

“I am seriously considering a pardon for Sheriff Arpaio,” Mr Trump told Fox News in an interview at his club in Bedminster, New Jersey. “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.”

The President added that he might issue the pardon “right away, maybe early this week”. It would be his first pardon as President.

Mr Arpaio was convicted in July for defying a 2011 court order that required his officers to stop detaining people on the suspicion that they were in the country illegally. Several Latino citizens and legal residents had been detained under the policy.

Mr Arpaio’s lawyer argued that the court order was unclear, and claimed he had not intended to racially profile anyone. Judge Susan Bolton said he had shown “flagrant disregard” for the court order and “willfully violated” it.

The former sheriff is scheduled to be sentenced in early October, and faces up to six months in jail.

In 2013, another judge found Mr Arpaio’s deputies had disproportionately targeted Latinos during traffic operations – a ruling that was largely upheld on appeal in 2015. Mr Arpaio is also known for allegedly forcing his prisoners to wear pink underwear, and housing them in hot, canvas tents.

Still, Mr Trump heaped praise on the controversial sheriff in his interview with Fox.

“Is there anyone in local law enforcement who has done more to crack down on illegal immigration than Sheriff Joe?” he asked. “He has protected people from crimes and saved lives. He doesn’t deserve to be treated this way.”

Mr Arpaio roundly endorsed Mr Trump in his presidential run last year, telling NPR that he had a “gut feeling” that the candidate was “different,” and “my type of guy”.

“We kind of do the parallel, if you look at him and me," he said.

Still, Fox News reports he seemed surprised when informed of the President’s comments.

“I am happy he understands the case,” Mr Arpaio said. “I would accept the pardon because I am 100 per cent not guilty.”

He added: “I would never ask him for a pardon, especially if it causes heat. I don’t want to do anything that would hurt the President.”

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