Not only did former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio lose his bid for reelection last November, but the controversial anti-immigration advocate also found himself on the wrong side of the law. Dubbed “America’s toughest sheriff,” the outspoken Donald Trump supporter was charged with criminal contempt for refusing to halt his department’s immigration roundups, for which he was ultimately convicted in federal court last week. Seeing as how his good buddy is now the President of the United States, rumors in the local press have circulated that Arpaio may seek a pardon.
The Arizona Republic pressed the ex-sheriff about this, especially since a recent Infowars article claiming have spoken exclusively with Arpaio told a different story. “Where is President Trump on this case?” he was quoted. “This is a witch hunt against me that is being carried forward by Obama holdovers in Attorney General Sessions’ Department of Justice.” He stressed it was others, and not him, who were drumming up the story. And he did so with an all too familiar line taken straight out of Trump’s playbook:
“The reason I think a lot of this is being talked about is that many, many people around the country are saying, ‘Trump should pardon. I have not called him on this issue. I’m sure I could… I’m with him, pardon no pardon, and not asking him. Although, as I said, many other people are asking him.”
“I’m not going to ask him,” he continued. “I think, I believe he may not even know about this, which will become a different story in a couple days, with a bigger, much bigger picture than just me.” Yet Arpaio insisted, “Whatever the president wants me to do, I would support him. If he needs help with anything, of course I’m going to help him.”
While Article II, Section 2 of the United States Constitution grants the president the power to pardon individuals, he or she typically doesn’t grant pardons on a random basis. The Justice Department’s Office of the Pardon Attorney requires the submission of a formal petition, which must undergo a rigorous vetting process before it reaches the president’s desk. This includes a mandatory five-year waiting period, at a minimum, after his or her federal conviction had cleared the courts. Then again, President Gerald Ford pardoned President Richard Nixon for any crimes he may have committed, so ¯_(ツ)_/¯