President Donald Trump has pardoned Joe Arpaio, the controversial former sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, the White House announced Friday night, The Hill reports.
“Throughout his time as Sheriff, Arpaio continued his life’s work of protecting the public from the scourges of crime and illegal immigration,” the White House said in a statement stressing Arpaio’s public service.
“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,” the statement added.
Trump later shared the news on Twitter, writing of Arpaio, “He kept Arizona safe!”
“We’re very excited. This is the culmination of a lot of hard work. We’re very proud to see the president has done the right thing.” Jack Wilenchik, an attorney for Arpaio, told CNN by phone.
Wilenchik said he was contacted by White House counsel on Friday afternoon saying that Trump had signed the pardon paperwork. The attorney indicated that Arpaio’s legal team would now move to ask for the case against Arpaio to be dismissed.
“Frankly, this saves everybody a lot of trouble,” he added.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders had said earlier this week that Trump would make an announcement on Arpaio at an “appropriate time”. The announcement was released Friday evening as most media attention focused on a Category 4 hurricane barreling toward the Gulf Coast, impacting Texas and Louisiana. Trump had hinted at a rally in Phoenix on Tuesday that he was preparing to pardon the controversial former sheriff, an early supporter of the president’s.
Arpaio had been found guilty in a Justice Department investigation of racially profiling Latinos. He was convicted July 31 of criminal contempt for disobeying a federal judge’s order on detaining individuals suspected of being in the U.S. illegally.