President Trump has pardoned former sheriff Joe Arpaio. The 85 year old was convicted of criminal contempt in July for disregarding a court order meant to prevent racial profiling. The controversial lawman was due for a sentecing hearing in October.
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Arpaio rose to prominence in Maricopa County, Arizona, where he established himself as a sheriff who was tough on crime, especially crime associated with illegal immigration. It was in the execution of his duties as Sheriff that some felt Arpaio took things too far.
“Not only did (Arpaio) abdicate responsibility, he announced to the world and to his subordinates that he was going to continue business as usual no matter who said otherwise,” wrote US District Judge Susan Bolton after his conviction.
Yet Arpaio was a staunch supporter of the candidate Trump. The idea of a wall along the border, one Trump had promised would be paid for by Mexico, reesonated with the same people who backed Sheriff Arpaio.
When Trump went to Phoenix for his campaign style rally on Tuesday, the White House had announced there would be no discussion of an Arpaio pardon. Trump, though, implied it was coming in his speech that evening, much to the delight of the crowd.
“I won’t [pardon Arpaio] tonight because I don’t want to cause any controversy,” he said. “I’ll make a prediction. I think he’s going to be just fine.”
Civil rights groups have been fighting to uphold the conviction, which many saw as a vindication. The ACLU tweeted: “President Trump should not pardon Joe Arpaio. #PhoenixRally #noarpaiopardon.”
— ACLU National (@ACLU) August 23, 2017
“No, President Trump. Arpaio was not ‘just doing his job.’ He was violating the Constitution and discriminating against Latinos.”