President Trump will not pardon controversial former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio at a campaign rally Tuesday night in Arizona.

"There will be no discussion of that today at any point and no action will be taken on that front at any point today," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters aboard Air Force One.

Trump stoked speculation about the move during a recent interview with Fox News, saying he was "seriously considering" pardoning Arpaio, a longtime supporter whose hardline immigration policies align with his own. 


The 85-year-old former lawman, known as "Sheriff Joe," was convicted last month of contempt of court for defying a 2011 order to stop apprehending suspected undocumented immigrants. 

Arpaio was the subject of a federal investigation into allegations of racial profiling in his efforts to combat illegal immigration.

The former sheriff is scheduled for sentencing in October, and faces a maximum of six months in jail. He lost his job in last November's election to Democrat Paul Penzone. 

Arpaio told NPR last week that a pardon from Trump would be appreciated.

"As far as the situation on a pardon, I didn't ask for it, but I will accept it if he does do it," Arpaio said. "This president understands what I've been going through. There aren't many politicians around believe me. I learned that real quick over this situation. You don't see anybody next to me and I've endorsed so many people."

The White House did not rule out a pardon for Arpaio in the future. 

Trump and Arpaio have been allies since 2012, when both were proponents of the so-called "birther" movement that questioned whether then-President Obama was actually born in the U.S. and thus qualified to serve in the Oval Office. 

Democrats have warned Trump against issuing the pardon, saying it could "set the standard for pardons" regarding Russian interference in last year's election, which is the subject of multiple congressional committees and a Justice Department special counsel. 

Trump is holding a prime-time, campaign-style event in Phoenix on Tuesday, his first public rally since his much-maligned response to the violence in Charlottesville, Va., last week.

The president is expected to use the speech to call for funding for his proposed border wall with Mexico, among other issues.