President Trump on Tuesday told an audience in Phoenix that former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio will be “just fine” despite his recent conviction for willfully disregarding an Arizona judge’s order in 2011 to stop anti-immigrant traffic patrols.
Trump made the comments to a crowd in the Phoenix Convention Center.
Arpaio, 85, was convicted by U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton of misdemeanor contempt of court.
Trump asked supporters in the crowd if Arpaio was “convicted for doing his job?”
The crowd cheered.
“He should have had a jury, but I’ll make a prediction: He’ll be just fine,” Trump said. “But I won’t do it tonight, because I don’t want to cause any controversy.”
Trump’s speech touched on topics ranging from his response to violence in Charlottesville, Va., the “fake-news media” and Democrats in Congress.
There had been intense speculation in recent days that the president might issue a pardon for Arpaio, best known for his immigration crackdowns as the top lawman in metropolitan Phoenix.
Arpaio and Trump share similar views on immigration enforcement, and the lawman campaigned for Trump several times during the 2016 race.
The Associated Press contributed to this report