Then-Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff Joe Arpaio (L) joins then-presidential candidate Donald J. Trump on stage as he endorses him January 25, 2016, in Marshalltown, Iowa. On Friday, Trump pardoned Arpaio for ignoring a court order to stop racial profiling on immigration enforcement. File Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI | License Photo
Aug. 25 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump on Friday pardoned Joe Arpaio weeks after a federal judge found the former Maricopa County, Ariz., sheriff guilty of ignoring a judge's order to stop racial profiling in immigration enforcement.
A press release from the White House said Arpaio's more than 50 years of "admirable service" made him a "worthy candidate for a presidential pardon."
"Throughout his time as sheriff, Arpaio continued his life's work of protecting the public from the scourges of crime and illegal immigration," the release said.
On July 31, U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton ruled that Arpaio was guilty of contempt of court for failing to comply with an order from U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow in 2011 to stop detaining people based only on the belief that they are in the United States illegally.
Arpaio, 85, the Republican sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz., for 24 years, was a staunch opponent of illegal immigration and instituted policies that led some supporters to refer to him as the "toughest sheriff in America."
Arpaio's lawyers argued that Snow's order was unclear and that willful intention was required to prove criminal contempt.
Trump hinted that he planned to pardon Arpaio earlier in the week when he held a campaign-style rally in Phoenix.
"So was Sheriff Joe convicted for doing his job? ... You know what, I'll make a prediction: I think he's going to be just fine, OK? But I won't do it tonight because I don't want to cause any controversy. But Sheriff Joe should feel good," Trump said.
The American Civil Liberties Union responded to Trump' statements about Arpaio on Twitter.
"No, President Trump. Arpaio was not 'just doing his job.' He was violating the Constitution and discriminating against Latinos," the organization said.