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White House says Trump will not pardon Arpaio at Phoenix rally

(AP Photo)

PHOENIX — President Donald Trump will not grant a pardon for former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio during a Phoenix rally on Tuesday, the White House said.

“There will be no discussion of that [Tuesday] and no action will be taken on that at any point [Tuesday],” press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told media aboard Air Force One.

Arpaio said he wasn’t disappointed that a pardon wouldn’t be issued Tuesday.

“No, no,” the former sheriff said. “They just decided not to do it [Tuesday]. We’ll have to see if and when it occurs in the future.”

Arpaio said he wasn’t expecting a pardon so soon.

“I believe his comments, made a little over a week ago, didn’t have any bearing about this rally,” Arpaio said.

The president had been mulling a pardon for the former lawman since last week.

Arpaio was found guilty of criminal contempt in a yearslong court battle in July.

U.S. District Judge Susan R. Bolton found the 85-year-old guilty of the misdemeanor that could bring a six-month jail sentence, though that was unlikely.

His lawyers said he would appeal. Trump could still pardon him at any time.

At least two Arizona congressmen had called for Trump to pardon the sheriff.

“Sheriff Arpaio has been a faithful servant of this nation for over six decades,” U.S. Rep. Andy Biggs said in a release. “He should be allowed to live out the rest of his days in peace and confidence that his efforts were not in vain.”

U.S. Rep. Trent Franks said Arpaio’s prosecution was politically motivated.

Franks said before the rally to KTAR News that news of Trump deciding not to pardon Arpaio Tuesday is the president wanting to keep things peaceful.

“I’m not disappointed at this point because I think there’s still an excellent chance that pardon will occur,” Franks said. “I think the president is just trying to keep thing copacetic and keep us focused on the — sort of the issues of the country had. I thought his speech last night was absolutely magnificent and it gives me a little more hope to keep the fires of peace burning.”

It seemed Arizona would not support the idea of a presidential pardon being issued during Trump’s Phoenix rally. A poll released Monday showed that about half of Arizona was against the idea.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton was excited to hear that Arpaio would not be pardoned Tuesday at the rally, a move he criticized last week because of the violence in Charlottesville and the controversy about the former Maricopa County sheriff in the Valley.

“That is a great victory for so many of the community activists and leaders that have been asking the president not to do that,” Stanton said. “That would be such a volatile thing to do here in Phoenix and because of that, I’m much more confident that today is going to be calm and peaceful.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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