The Washington Post reports:
As Joseph Arpaio’s federal case headed toward trial this past spring, President Trump wanted to act to help the former Arizona county sheriff who had become a campaign-trail companion and a partner in their crusade against illegal immigration.
The president asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions whether it would be possible for the government to drop the criminal case against Arpaio, but was advised that would be inappropriate, according to three people with knowledge of the conversation. After talking with Sessions, Trump decided to let the case go to trial, and if Arpaio was convicted, he could grant clemency.
So the president waited, all the while planning to issue a pardon if Arpaio was found in contempt of court for defying a federal judge’s order to stop detaining people merely because he suspected them of being undocumented immigrants. Trump was, in the words of one associate, “gung-ho about it.”
Trump’s Friday-evening decision to issue his first pardon for Arpaio was the culmination of a five-year political friendship with roots in the “birther” movement to undermine President Barack Obama. In an extraordinary exercise of presidential power, Trump bypassed the traditional review process to ensure that Arpaio, who was convicted of contempt of court, would face no time in prison.
Exclusive: Trump asked Sessions about dropping case against Arpaio, an ally in his anti-Obama “birther” crusade https://t.co/eUNjRuDQjr
— Washington Post (@washingtonpost) August 26, 2017
Taxpayers paid more than $140m so far to settle & litigate 13,000+ claims of Arpaio staff abuses, deaths in custody, 1993-2016 https://t.co/f3xbNo6PZ3
— David Cay Johnston (@DavidCayJ) August 26, 2017