Trump reportedly asked Sessions about dropping the criminal case against Arpaio
Joe Arpaio, the former sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, is seen in this 2011 photo./Shutterstock.com
President Donald Trump reportedly asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions if it would be possible for the government to drop the criminal contempt case against Joe Arpaio.
Trump was reportedly told it would be inappropriate to drop the case against the former sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, who was convicted for ignoring a judge’s orders to stop detaining people based on a suspicion they were in the country illegally, the Washington Post reports. Its story is based on three people with knowledge of the conversation.
After speaking with Sessions, Trump decided to let the case go to trial and to issue the pardon afterwards if there were a conviction, the story reports. Arpaio’s sentencing was set for October.
Trump pardoned Arpaio on Friday night. Trump said Arpaio is 85 years old and has more than 50 years “of admirable service to our nation.” ABA President Hilarie Bass had issued a statement expressing disappointment in the pardon.
“The crime that Arpaio was convicted of committing—criminal contempt of court for ignoring a judge’s order—showed a blatant disregard for the authority of the judiciary,” she said.
The Justice Department did not comment on the reported conversation between Trump and Sessions when contacted by the Washington Post. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told the newspaper, “It’s only natural the president would have a discussion with administration lawyers about legal matters. This case would be no different.”
Trump issued the pardon without consulting the Justice Department and without going through the traditional review process, the Post reports.