President Donald Trump all but announced a pardon of convicted Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio at his Tuesday night rally in Phoenix, AZ.
“I won’t do it tonight because I don’t want to cause any controversy … but Sheriff Joe can feel good!” Trump told the raucous rally-goers, many of whom stood outside for hours in Phoenix’s 108-degree heat to hear the president speak.
Trump broached the topic about 40-minutes into his speech. He asked the crowd, served until recently by “America’s Sheriff” Arpaio, “By the way, I’m just curious, do the people in this room like Sheriff Joe?”
The crowd roared in response.
Arpaio was convicted last month of violating a civil contempt order in a jury-less trial before a Clinton-appointed judge. The prosecution stemmed from his refusal to cease his nationally known tough method for curbing illegal immigration when ordered to nearly a decade ago. He faces up to six months in prison at sentencing.
“So was Sheriff Joe convicted of doing his job?” Trump asked, again to great applause.
“He should have had a jury!” the president added.
Suspects charged with misdemeanors punishable by only six months imprisonment are not entitled to jury trials under the Constitution, although they are often granted.
Arpaio’s supporters have placed their hope in President Trump, especially after he hinted to Fox News last week that he was considering a pardon for the embattled 85-year old sheriff.
“I’ll make a prediction,” President Trump concluded, as if to put the matter finally to rest, “I think he’s gonna be just fine.”