On August 25, 2017, President Trump announced that he would be granting a full pardon to Sheriff Joe Arpaio following charges finding him in contempt of court. The president tweeted, “I am pleased to inform you that I have just granted a full Pardon to 85-year-old American patriot Sheriff Joe Arpaio. He kept Arizona safe!” This came shortly after he held a rally in Phoenix, Arizona, where he suggested that he would grant a pardon to Arpaio.
Arpaio replied via twitter, saying, “Thank you for seeing my conviction for what it is: a political witch hunt by holdovers in the Obama justice department!” He went on to say, “I also thank my loyal supporters, who stood shoulder to shoulder [with] me in this fight, and throughout my career.”
The pardon elicited a great deal of controversy. While many supporters of Sheriff Joe were happy to hear of the pardon, the ACLU issued a statement saying, “With his pardon of Arpaio, Trump has chosen lawlessness over justice, division over unity, hurt over healing. Once again, the president has acted in support of illegal, failed immigration enforcement practices that target people of color and have been struck down by the courts. His pardon of Arpaio is a presidential endorsement of racism.” The ACLU brought the case against Arpaio to begin with.
While the misdemeanor charges against Arpaio were unlikely to lead to jail time, they did constitute a blemish on Arpaio’s extensive career, beginning in the military and culminating in over fifty years in various federal and local law enforcement capacities. According to a White House press release, “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.”
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