President Trump on Monday defended his recent pardon of Joe Arpaio, suggesting that the Obama administration prosecuted the former Maricopa Co., Arizona Sheriff for political reasons.
“Sheriff Joe is a patriot; Sheriff Joe loves our country; Sheriff Joe protected our borders; and Sheriff Joe was very unfairly treated by the Obama administration, especially right before an election — an election that he would have won,” Trump said at a joint press conference with Finland’s president, Sauli Niinistö.
“I stand by my pardon of Sheriff Joe, and I think the people of Arizona who really know him best would agree with me,” Trump continued.
On Friday, Trump granted 85-year-old Arpaio reprieve from his conviction in July of obstructing justice for refusing to comply with a federal judge’s order to stop detaining illegal immigrants who had not committed crimes.
Arpaio, who was first elected sheriff in 1993, lost his re-election bid in November.
In his remarks, Trump defended pardoning Arpaio by comparing pardons and commutations handed down by his predecessors, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.
Trump pointed to Clinton’s pardon of Marc Rich, a financier who was accused of selling arms to Iran. Clinton controversially pardoned Rich, a fugitive, after his ex-wife donated heavily to the Democratic National Committee.
Trump noted Obama’s commutations of Chelsea Manning, the WikiLeaks leaker, and Oscar Lopez Rivera, a convicted bombmaker who was a member of the Puerto Rican terrorist group FALN.