Trump hints at pardon for Joe Arpaio

President Trump refrained Tuesday from pardoning former Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff Joe Arpaio, but signaled that he would soon do so, saying that "Sheriff Joe can feel good."
 
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said earlier Tuesday that Trump had no plans to issue a pardon to the controversial sheriff, who was convicted last month of criminal contempt. 
 
But Trump said at a Tuesday night rally in Phoenix that Arpaio would be "just fine," suggesting he would pardon him, but not yet.
 
"I won't do it tonight because I don't want to cause any controversy, all right?" Trump said. "But Sheriff Joe can feel good."
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In a recent Fox News interview, Trump said he was seriously considering a pardon for Arpaio, who was convicted last month of criminal contempt of court.
 
Arpaio was ordered by a federal court to end a program whereby his deputies arrested individuals suspected of being in the country illegally, but who were not necessarily caught committing other crimes.
 
The court ruled the program led to racial profiling.
 
He's scheduled for sentencing in October and could face up to six months in jail.
 
Arpaio told NPR last week that he'd accept the pardon.
 
"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."
 
Arpaio was sheriff of Maricopa County for 23 years before losing his reelection bid in 2016 against Sheriff Paul Penzone (D). Trump handily beat Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonPoll: Majority of Democratic voters happy with their choices among 2020 contenders No presidential candidate can unite the country GOP lawmakers speak out against 'send her back' chants MORE in Maricopa County, even as Penzone unseated Arpaio.
 
Arpaio was one of Trump's earliest political supporters.
 
In 2012, both men were proponents of "birtherism," the claim that President Obama was not born in the United States. 
 
Although there are few legal limits on presidential pardons, Democrats have railed against the idea, saying a pardon would amount to the justification of Arpaio's controversial law enforcement methods.