PHOENIX - President Donald Trump is defending his decision to pardon Joe Arpaio, calling the former Arizona sheriff a "patriot" who loves his country.
Trump was asked about his controversial decision during a joint press conference with the president of Finland on Monday.
Trump says Arpaio did a "great job for the people of Arizona" but was treated "very unfairly" by the Obama administration. He's also pointing to controversial pardons by previous presidents.
Trump adds that he stands by his pardon and says, "I think the people of Arizona who really know him best would agree with me."
I appreciate @realDonaldTrump support and comments about me today at his press conference.— Joe Arpaio (@RealSheriffJoe) August 29, 2017
Arpaio faced a possible jail sentence due to a federal conviction stemming from his immigration patrols.
Attorneys for Arpaio released a statement to ABC15 on Monday which read in part:
"It is clear by his comments at the rally last Tuesday that the President of the United States believed that the Sheriff's conviction was wrongful, and that the Sheriff was convicted-as we have contended-for merely 'doing his job.' To quote Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, the President's power to pardon 'is a part of the constitutional scheme,' and it is a check on the system. While the authority of judges must be respected, it is also not absolute. If it were, then our Constitution would not give the power that it does to juries, and to the President, to keep the system in check. Because the court refused to let this case go to a jury, then the people had to speak through their President. Appeals are not a viable option, because they can take years to resolve, and more time taxpayer money which just goes to pay lawyers-all over what would have likely amounted to no more than $5,000 fine, for a petty and non-existent crime. The Sheriff, who is eighty-five years old, is not a young man, and there is no guarantee that he would outlast the appeals. And as a law enforcement officer of over fifty years-and the longest-serving Sheriff of Maricopa County-there are more positive things that he can and should be doing for his community, than waiting for justice."