President Trump has pardoned former sheriff Joe Arpaio the White House announced Friday night.
“Throughout his time as Sheriff, Arpaio continued his life’s work of protecting the public from the scourges of crime and illegal immigration,” the White House said in a statement.
“Sheriff Joe Arpaio is now eighty-five years old, and after more than fifty years of admirable service to our Nation, he is a worthy candidate for a Presidential pardon.”
Arpaio, known as “Sheriff Joe,” was found to have disobeyed a 2011 court order issued by U.S. District Court Judge Murray Snow that required the 85-year-old to stop racially profiling Latinos as part of signature immigration round-ups.
“I am seriously considering a pardon for Sheriff Arpaio,” Trump recently told Fox News.
“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.”
U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton’s July ruling came after a five-day June and July trial, in which Department of Justice prosecutors argued that Arpaio had willfully ignored the order. Arpaio’s argued that the court order was unclear and that, although mistakes had been made, the violations were unintended.
“The evidence at trial proves beyond a reasonable doubt and the Court finds that Judge (G. Murray) Snow issued a clear and definite order enjoining Defendant from detaining persons for further investigation without reasonable suspicion that a crime has been or is being committed; that Defendant knew of the order; and that Defendant willfully violated the order by failing to do anything to ensure his subordinates’ compliance and by directing them to continue to detain persons for whom no criminal charges could be filed,” Bolton wrote in the ruling. “Because the Court finds that Defendant willfully violated an order of the court, it finds Defendant guilty of criminal contempt.”
The Hill added:
Democrats had warned Trump not to pardon Arpaio at the campaign rally, saying it would inflame racial tension at a time when the nation was on edge from the unrest in Charlottesville, Va.
However, many Arizona Republicans, including Reps. Trent Franks and Andy Biggs, had been pushing Trump to make the pardon.
Biggs had called Arpaio’s conviction “the culmination of a political witch hunt by the Obama administration to sideline and destroy a formidable opponent.”