(PHOENIX) — President Donald Trump will not issue a pardon of controversial Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio during a campaign rally in Phoenix set for Tuesday evening, the White House said Tuesday.
“There will no discussion of that today and no action will be taken on that at any point today,” said White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders during a gaggle with reporters aboard Air Force One on the way to Arizona with Trump on Tuesday.
Arpaio faces up to six months in prison after being found guilty of criminal contempt in July, stemming from his disregard of an order that he cease detaining suspected illegal immigrants. The former sheriff became a national figure for his hardline approach to combatting undocumented persons living and moving within his jurisdiction.
Speculation that the president would use the occasion of the rally — which will take place in Maricopa County where Arpaio served as sheriff — arose from comments Trump made in an interview with Fox News earlier in August.
“I am seriously considering a pardon for Sheriff Arpaio,” Trump said on August 13.
Arpaio and Trump maintained a relationship throughout the presidential campaign, during which Arpaio appeared at rallies on the Republican nominee’s behalf, and ultimately spoke at the Republican National Convention. He lost reelection to his post as sheriff the same day in November that Trump captured Arizona’s 11 electoral votes on his way to an electoral college victory over Hillary Clinton.
Trump has yet to exercise his pardon power as president. Any move to do so soon would come far earlier than former presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, who each waited almost two years into their terms before granting an initial pardon.
Sanders did not rule out that Arpaio could be pardoned at a later date.
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