Trump might pardon Sheriff Joe Arpaio: 'He's a great American patriot and I hate to see what has happened to him'

President Donald Trump said he’s considering issuing a pardon for former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was found guilty in July on a charge of criminal contempt for defying a judge’s order to halt traffic patrols targeting undocumented immigrants.

“I am seriously considering a pardon for Sheriff Arpaio,” Trump told Fox News from Bedminster, New Jersey, where the president is on vacation. “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.”

Trump indicated that the pardon — if he moves forward with it — would happen in the “next few days.”

Arpaio, 85, is the former sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, and an ardent Trump supporter and right-wing Republican. He styled himself “America’s Toughest Sheriff,” for his harsh treatment of inmates and aggressive crackdowns on undocumented immigrants. Arpaio lost his reelection bid in January after serving for almost 25 years.

Arpaio was convicted of a misdemeanour contempt of court by US District Judge Susan Bolton for “wilfully violating” an Arizona judge’s order to stop patrols targeting Latino drivers on the suspicion that they were in the US illegally. Arpaio maintained the patrols for almost 18 months after the judge’s order.

Arpaio’s attorneys said that the judge’s 2011 order was not clear and that the sheriff was just doing his job. Arpaio is due to be sentenced on October 5.

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