A House Republican from Arizona urged President Trump on Monday to pardon former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio amid speculation an announcement could come at a campaign rally this week.
In a letter to Trump, Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) wrote that Arpaio had “been the target of politically-motivated investigations” during the Obama administration while carrying out “his quest to uphold immigration laws.”
“Mr. President, Sheriff Arpaio deserves to live out the rest of his days in peace and confidence that he did his part to uphold the laws of his country. He should not be facing a jail sentence or any form of punishment. I respectfully encourage you to follow through with your intentions to pardon Sheriff Joe Arpaio and to convey a message of gratitude for his distinguished record of service to this country,” Biggs wrote.
Arpaio was found guilty last month of criminal contempt of court for continuing patrols targeting immigrants in the U.S. illegally despite a court order in a racial profiling case. He could face up to six months in prison but won’t be sentenced until October.
The court order prohibited Arpaio from racial profiling during immigration patrols and detaining people only suspected of being in the country illegally.
Arpaio’s defense has been that the court order was unclear and he did not intentionally violate it.
Trump told Fox News earlier this month that he was “seriously considering” a pardon for Arpaio.
“He has done a lot in the fight against illegal immigration. He’s a great American patriot and I hate to see what has happened to him,” Trump said.
Arpaio, a hero of conservative immigration hawks, endorsed Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Like Trump, Arpaio also pushed the long-debunked claim that former President Barack Obama was not born in the U.S.
Arpaio lost his bid for a seventh term as Maricopa County sheriff last November to Democrat Paul Penzone.
Trump is scheduled to hold a rally in Phoenix on Tuesday, where it’s possible he could announce a pardon of Arpaio.
Biggs’s Democratic colleagues in the Arizona congressional delegation urged Trump not to pardon Arpaio in their own letter last week.
“We urge you in the strongest possible terms not to grant Mr. Arpaio relief from the penalties he deservedly faces for his illegal conduct and brazen abuse of the public trust,” Reps. Ruben Gallego, Ra˙l Grijalva and Tom O’Halleran wrote to Trump.