The White House said the 85-year-old ex-sheriff of Arizona’s Maricopa County was a “worthy candidate” for a presidential pardon.
The action came several days after Trump, at a rally in downtown Phoenix, strongly hinted that he intended to issue a pardon.
“So was Sheriff Joe was convicted for doing his job?” Trump asked supporters. “I’ll make a prediction. I think he’s going to be just fine, OK.”
Arpaio, who became linked to Trump during the campaign for their hardline immigration views, was convicted of a misdemeanor for intentionally defying a judge’s order to stop his traffic patrols that targeted immigrants.
Both politicians questioned the authenticity of then-President Barack Obama’s birth certificate and have a similar history in sparring with judges.
In the statement Friday night, the White House said, “Throughout his time as Sheriff, Arpaio continued his life’s work of protecting the public from the scourges of crime and illegal immigration. Sheriff Joe Arpaio is now eighty-five years old, and after more than fifty years of admirable service to our Nation, he is worthy candidate for a Presidential pardon.”