US President Donald Trump has granted a pardon to former Arizona lawman and political ally Joe Arpaio, the self-proclaimed “toughest sheriff in America,” less than a month after he was convicted of criminal contempt in a case involving his department’s racial profiling policy.
In a statement announcing the pardon, Trump’s first, he says “Throughout his time as sheriff, Arpaio continued his life’s work of protecting the public from the scourges of crime and illegal immigration.”
Trump had signaled this week that the first presidential pardon of his administration would go to Arpaio, 85, whom he has frequently praised for his hardline immigration stance.
The controversial decision wasn’t well received with one senator calling it “shameful and appalling.”
Arpaio, who campaigned for Trump in 2016, was convicted on July 31 by US District Judge Susan Bolton, who ruled he had willfully violated a 2011 injunction barring his officers from stopping and detaining Latino motorists solely on the suspicion that they were in the country illegally.
He was due to be sentenced in October.