Former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio brushed off his recent criminal conviction in federal court as a “petty crime” and has not said he would seek a pardon from President Trump, despite the pair regularly sharing the stage at political rallies during the 2016 campaign.
In an interview with the Associated Press, the former sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz., said he was astonished he was found guilty of a crime last week after more than 50 years in law enforcement.
“S-U-R-P-R-I-S-E-D,” Arpaio said of his conviction on a misdemeanor for defying a court order to stop traffic patrols that targeted immigrants.
He said he won’t rule out running for office again and remains steadfast in his support of Trump.
He can throw me into the swamp and cover me up in garbage, and I’d still support him.
“I was with him since Day One, and I am with him until the end. I don’t ask him for anything. He can throw me into the swamp and cover me up in garbage, and I’d still support him,” Arpaio said.
The former lawman known for launching immigration crackdowns is set to be sentenced on Oct. 5. The 85-year-old faces up to six months in jail, though attorneys who have followed the case doubt someone his age would be incarcerated.
It has been speculated that Arpaio would seek a pardon from his ally in the White House to have his legal troubles erased. His criminal attorneys have declined to say whether they were seeking relief from the president on Arpaio’s behalf.
While the former sheriff told the AP that he’s fighting his legal battles without Trump’s help, Phoenix news station KTVK-TV reported that Arpaio said during an interview he wanted to know why the president wasn’t rescuing him.
“Somebody ought to ask the president where is he,” Arpaio told the station.
Arpaio ardently supported Trump during the presidential campaign. Trump has invoked Arpaio’s name in his calls for tougher immigration enforcement and used some of the same immigration rhetoric and advocated for tactics that made the longtime Phoenix-area lawman a national name a decade earlier.
He appeared for Trump at rallies in Iowa, Nevada and Arizona, including a huge gathering in the affluent Phoenix suburb where the sheriff lives. Arpaio also gave a speech at the Republican National Convention in which he said Trump would prevent immigrants from sneaking into the country.
Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton in Arizona by 3 1/2 percentage points.
Arpaio’s attorneys have vowed to appeal the verdict in his case, and the former sheriff said he isn’t surrendering. He said the worst legal trouble he had faced were two parking tickets.
“Here I am at the end of my career sitting at a defense table in a contempt-of-court case,” Arpaio said.
He took solace in the fact his conviction isn’t a felony.
“It’s only a misdemeanor. You can run for anything you want with a misdemeanor. It’s a petty crime,” Arpaio said.