President Donald Trump has pardoned former Maricopa County (AZ) Sheriff Joe Arpaio from his criminal contempt conviction.

The White House announced the pardon Friday evening in a news release that recounted Arpaio’s lengthy career of “admirable service” in federal and local law enforcement and called him “a worthy candidate for a Presidential pardon.”

Reached moments after the announcement, Arpaio told the Arizona Republic, “I’m very appreciative of the president issuing that pardon. It shows how he backs up law enforcement.”

Arpaio, who lost a 2016 reelection bid ending 24 years in office, also hinted at a political comeback: “I don’t know what I’m going to do politically. I told my wife that I was through with politics. But now I’ve decided I’m not through with politics because of what’s happening. I didn’t ask for a pardon. It has nothing to do with a pardon. I’ve been saying this for the last couple of months. I’ve got a lot to offer.”

Arpaio, 85, was convicted of criminal contempt on July 31, and was scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 5. He faced up to six months in jail.

 

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