In addition to signing an official memo ordering the Defense Department to develop and implement a transgender military ban on Friday, President Donald Trump issued a pardon for Joe Arpaio, the controversial ex-sheriff from Arizona. According to a White House release obtained by NBC News and other outlets, Trump “granted a Presidential pardon to Joe Arpaio, former Sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona.” The so-called “America’s Toughest Sheriff” was convicted of criminal contempt in early August for his failure to stop racially profiling Latinos via a controversial series of illegal immigration roundups.
Though the statement summarizes Arpaio’s military and police records, it says nothing about his recent conviction or the illegal nature of his immigration raids. Even so, the White House statement applauds him for “fifty years of admirable service” and declares him a “worthy candidate for a Presidential pardon.” Speculation for such a thing picked up not long after Arpaio’s conviction made national headlines, though both the former sheriff and the Trump administration played down the rumors. Yet subsequent reports suggested the president was “seriously considering” the matter, and many thought he would announce it at his Phoenix rally, but Trump ultimately did not.
You can read the full White House statement below.
UPDATE #1: In a statement, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton condemned Trump’s decision to pardon Arpaio in the strictest terms possible. “Pardoning Joe Arpaio is a slap in the face to the people of Maricopa County,” he wrote, “especially the Latino community and those he victimized as he systematically and illegally violated their civil rights.” You can read the full statement below.
UPDATE #2: Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, whose critical opinion of Trump’s presidency and the Republican party have earned him numerous insults and anti-campaign efforts from the latter, responded to Arpaio’s pardon on Twitter. “I would have preferred that the President honor the judicial process and let it take its course,” he tweeted.
UPDATE #3: In a series of tweets, Arpaio took a page from Trump’s own playbook and thanked the president “for seeing my conviction for what it is: a political witch hunt by holdovers in the Obama justice department.” He also tweeted out a link to his legal defense fund.
(Via NBC News)