When President Trump flexed his presidential powers to pardon former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio in August, there was some question as to whether he could legally do so. Days after Trump issued the pardon, a federal judge denied Arpaio’s request to have his contempt of court conviction vacated.
Instead, U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton, who presided over the case, ruled that both the former sheriff’s attorneys and the Department of Justice prosectors must file briefings explaining why she should grant the request. On Wednesday, Bolton announced her decision: Arpaio’s guilty verdict was dismissed and the case can never be tried again.
Arpaio was charged with criminal contempt of court after he intentionally defied a court order prohibiting his Phoenix, AZ, police department from racially profiling people they suspected of being undocumented immigrants. USA Today reports that Bolton reluctantly accepted the pardon, and said Arpaio would “escape punishment for his willful violation” of a court order.
Obviously the erstwhile sheriff is pleased by the decision. Speaking to the Arizona Republic, Arpaio maintained his innocence and even went as far to say that Trump was his “hero.” For real:
“I’m happy the conviction was dismissed, especially since I am not guilty,” he told The Arizona Republic, “and I will be addressing that issue in the near future.”
And though that statement hinted at retribution, Arpaio would not let on what he had in mind.
Instead he praised Trump, saying, “It took me 85 years to find my hero and it’s the president of the United States.”
What will Arpaio do next? He’s running for something, anything, he’s not sure. According to the Washington Examiner, Arpaio suggested he might try to unseat Jeff Flake, a Republican Senator representing Arizona. “I could run for mayor, I could run for legislator, I could run for Senate,” Arpaio told the conservative website. “I’m sure getting a lot of people around the state asking me [to challenge Flake].”