In a rally speech in Phoenix on Tuesday night, President Donald Trump suggested that former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is “going to be fine,” suggesting that he may pardon the lawman.
Arpaio, 85, is slated to be sentenced on Oct. 5 after he was convicted on federal contempt-of-court charges.
“I’ll make a prediction: I think he’s going to be just fine, okay?” Trump told the crowd, referring to Arpaio, who is known for his tough treatment on illegal immigrants.
“But I won’t do it tonight because I don’t want to cause any controversy, is that okay?” the president joked. “But Sheriff Joe can feel good,” he added.
Arpaio, who was known as “America’s toughest sheriff,” was convicted last month, and he could face as many as six months in jail
On Aug. 14, Fox News reported that Trump indicated that he was “seriously considering” a pardon. Trump called Arpaio “a great American patriot.”
“I hate to see what has happened to him,” Trump added.
Arpaio did not attend the rally, but he has spoken out in favor of Trump in the past. Arpaio has served his country for 50 years, including in the military, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and as Arizona’s Maricopa County sheriff.
“I am very humbled he brought me up, and didn’t know he was going to [do so],” Arpaio told ABC15 on Wednesday. “I’m very happy. I was with him from day one and will be with him as long as he is president.”
In December of 2011, during a long-running racial profiling case, U.S. District Court Judge G. Murray Snow ordered that Arpaio’s deputies could only hold people if they were accused of committing a state crime—not because the officials believed they were in the country illegally. The longtime sheriff was also told by the judge to stop traffic patrols targeting people he suspected of being illegal immigrants. However, Arpaio continued to enforce them for at least 17 months after the order was implemented, according to the New York Daily News.
Arpaio’s legal team is now planning to appeal the conviction as they believe the case should have been heard by a jury instead of a judge.
“The judge’s verdict is contrary to what every single witness testified in the case,” his attorneys said in a statement after his conviction. “Arpaio believes that a jury would have found in his favor, and that it will.”