Hours after President Trump all but promised to pardon Joe Arpaio at a rally in Phoenix, the former Arizona sheriff said on Wednesday he had a hunch the commander in chief would mention him at the event despite a denial from the White House.
“My gut told me he was going to do it,” Arpaio said in an interview with Fox Business. “Of course everyone said ‘no,’ but I know the man.”
The 85-year-old former top cop from Maricopa County is facing up to six months in jail for contempt of court after defying a judge’s order to stop traffic patrols that targeted immigrants. The misdemeanor criminal conviction was handed down last month by District Judge Susan Bolton, who found that Arpaio had ignored a 2011 federal court order to halt the crackdown.
Last week, Trump said was considering a pardon of Arpaio, who backed Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Before Tuesday’s rally, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters that there would be “no discussion of that today at any point.”
But during the rally, Trump told the crowd inside Phoenix Convention Center that Arpaio was “convicted for doing his job.”
“That’s why he should have had a jury,” Trump said. “I’ll make a prediction. I think he’s going to be just fine.”
“I won’t do it tonight because I don’t want to cause any controversy,” Trump explained. “But Sheriff Joe can feel good.”
“It was a great evening for me,” Arpaio, who did not attend the rally, said Wednesday “I really appreciate the president’s nice comments and support.”
“I have a great deal of respect for him,” he added. “I always will have, pardon or no pardon. I’m with him till the end.”
CNN reported on Wednesday that the White House is currently preparing paperwork for Arpaio’s pardon. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 5.
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