President Donald Trump strongly defended his pardon of former Sheriff Joe Arpaio at a press conference Monday, calling Arpaio a "patriot" and listing off a series of controversial pardons and commutations by his White House predecessors.
Arpaio, former sheriff in Maricopa County, Ariz., was convicted July 31 of criminal contempt, which stemmed from his defiance of a judge's order to stop using what were deemed unconstitutional profiling methods against Latinos.
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Trump pardoned him Friday, issuing a statement that Arpaio had through his work as a sheriff protected the public "from the scourges of crime and illegal immigration." While some conservatives praised the decision, it was blasted by Democrats and even some Republicans, including Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) and Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.).
Trump seemed to expect the question at his press conference; as he began to explain why he issued the pardon, he pulled some papers out of his inner left jacket pocket and read off them.
"He is loved in Arizona. I thought he was treated unbelievably unfairly when they came down with their big decision to go get him right before the election voting started, as you know," Trump said, noting the sheriff lost a "fairly close election" in 2016.
Trump then began reading off a list of controversial presidential pardons over the years, such as Bill Clinton's of corrupt businessman Marc Rich and far-left terrorist Susan Rosenberg, and Barack Obama's commutation of the sentences of military leaker Chelsea Manning and Puerto Rican terrorist Oscar Lopez Rivera, although neither of those were true pardons.
"Sheriff Joe is a patriot. Sheriff Joe loves our country," Trump said. "Sheriff Joe protected our borders, and Sheriff Joe was very unfairly treated by the Obama administration, especially right before the election, an election that he would have won … I stand by my pardon of Sheriff Joe, and I think the people of Arizona who really know him best would agree with me."
Arpaio has been accused of police misconduct, prisoner mistreatment, and racial profiling throughout his career. He was praised by Trump in 2012 for his investigation into the false "birther" rumor that Obama was born outside of the United States.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 18, 2012