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Trump pardons former Maricopa County Sheriff Arpaio

(Facebook Photo)

PHOENIX — President Donald Trump announced Friday evening he was pardoning former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, after hinting he would do so at a Phoenix rally.

“Throughout his time as sheriff, Arpaio continued his life’s work of protecting the public from the scourges of crime and illegal immigration,” a statement from the White House said. “Arpaio is now 85 years old, and after more than 50 years of admirable service to our nation, he is worthy candidate for a presidential pardon.”

The president followed the statement with a tweet about two hours later.

It was the first pardon of Trump’s administration. The Justice Department reportedly said it was not consulted about the pardon.

The case has cost Maricopa County millions of dollars in legal fees.

Arpaio was expected to address the pardon on Monday.

However, the former sheriff took to Twitter to thank both his supporters and Trump after the pardon.

Arpaio’s attorney said the pardon saved everyone a lot of time.

“Frankly, this saves everybody a lot of trouble and does what’s right,” Jack Wilenchik told CNN shortly after the pardon was issued.

The president intimated he planned to pardon the former sheriff during an Aug. 22 rally in Phoenix, but did not want to do so while in the city to avoid causing controversy.

Arpaio said he thought Trump may defy his advisers and pardon him at the rally.

About half of respondents in an Arizona poll said pardoning him at the rally would have been a poor decision.

Arpaio was found guilty in late July of misdemeanor contempt when he continued his immigration sweeps for 17 months after a judge ordered him to stop.

His sentencing was scheduled for Oct. 5 and could have faced up to six months in jail. The pardon made him an innocent man.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton called the pardon a slap in the face to Maricopa County’s Latino community.

“Arpaio targeted and terrorized Latino families because of the color of their skin,” Stanton said in a statement.

“He was ordered by a federal judge to stop and he refused. He received a fair trial and a justifiable conviction, and there’s nothing the President can do to change that awful legacy and the stain he has left on our community.”

Other’s echoed Stanton’s criticism, while Arpaio supporters praised the pardon.

Arpaio stumped for the president multiple times during the campaign, including at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

“I have spent 55 years in law enforcement,” the then-sheriff said. “Fifty-five years, I’ve always regarded my work [and] missions critical, but my most important mission has just begun to help elect Donald Trump President of the United States.”

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