Trump pardons former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, convicted of contempt of court for violating Latinos’ rights

President Trump issued an executive pardon Friday to Joe Arpaio, the controversial former Arizona sheriff who was a hero to the right and a national nemesis of Latinos, immigration advocates and civil rights groups.

Arpaio, 85, was convicted in July of criminal contempt for violating a federal court order to stop racially profiling Latinos. He was scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 5 and faced a maximum of six months in jail.

“Sheriff Joe Arpaio is now 85 years old, and after more than 50 years of admirable service to our nation, he is [a] worthy candidate for a presidential pardon,” a statement issued by the White House said.

There was immediate reaction from some of those who have accused the aging lawman of brutality and racism.

“With his pardon of Arpaio, President Trump has chosen lawlessness over justice, division over unity, hurt over healing,” the American Civil Liberties Union said on Twitter.

“He should be held accountable. No one is above the law,” tweeted U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.). “Arpaio hurt Arizonans and cost taxpayers a great amount of grief and money.”

Arpaio said he was “humbled and incredibly grateful” to the president and looked forward “to putting this chapter behind me.”

The president has broad power under the Constitution to pardon people convicted of federal crimes. Trump had all but promised to pardon Arpaio in tweets and comments in recent weeks, yet acknowledged the political furor his pardon was likely to ignite.

“I won’t do it tonight because I don’t want to cause any controversy,” Trump told a raucous political rally in Phoenix on Aug. 22. He added, “I’ll make a prediction: I think he’s going to be just fine.”

Arpaio did not attend the Phoenix rally because he did not get a White House invitation and did not “want to cause any havoc,” he told the Los Angeles Times in an interview a day earlier. He also said he had not spoken with the president since Trump took office.

By week’s end, though, the Trump administration issued the statement announcing the pardon, citing Arpaio’s long years of “selfless public service” that began with his enlistment during the Korean War and continued through his years as a police officer, special agent for the Drug Enforcement Administration and, finally, a highly controversial sheriff in Arizona.

“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 statement said.

Read more at the Los Angeles Times.