The White House announced Friday in a flurry of breaking news that the president had made his first pardon of his term. President Trump gave the reprieve to former Arizon Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the controversial lawman who was accused of unfairly targeting Hispanics while hunting illegal aliens.
BREAKING: President Trump grants pardon to former Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona.— The Associated Press (@The Associated Press)1503706091.0
Arpaio had been convicted of criminal contempt of court for continuing raids that a judge had ordered to cease. The raids were made seeking illegal aliens, but Arpaio was accused of violating the rights of American citizens who were being allegedly profiled during the effort.
Arpaio admitted that he continued the raids despite the order for a year, but said that it had not been intentional, and blamed the attorney representing him at the time for “not properly explaining the importance of the court order.”
The former sheriff faced prison time for the conviction, but experts believed his advanced age would keep him from serving all of the sentence, which was to be determined October 5.
Rumors abounded that the president was going to announce the pardon of Arpaio during a recent rally in Phoenix, Arizona, but he demurred, saying only that he thought Arpaio "would be alright."
Friday, the former sheriff thanked the president from his Twitter account:
Thank you @realdonaldtrump for seeing my conviction for what it is: a political witch hunt by holdovers in the Obama justice department!— Sheriff Joe Arpaio (@Sheriff Joe Arpaio)1503709674.0
I am humbled and incredibly grateful to President Trump. I look fwd to putting this chapter behind me and helping to #MAGA— Sheriff Joe Arpaio (@Sheriff Joe Arpaio)1503709708.0
Democrat Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was less enthusiastic in her response.
.@POTUS pardon of fellow birther Arpaio makes mockery of rule of law, & says communities of color can be targeted & abused w/ total impunity— Nancy Pelosi (@Nancy Pelosi)1503708698.0
"[The president's] pardon of fellow birther Arpaio makes mockery of rule of law, [and] says communities of color can be targeted [and] abused w/ total impunity," she tweeted.