Trump defends decision to pardon Arizona’s Arpaio

FILE - In this Jan. 9, 2013, file photo, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio speaks to reporters in Phoenix. For more than five years, Arpaio has fixated on the authenticity of President Barack Obama’s birth certificate, going so far to send a deputy and member of his volunteer posse to Hawaii to question officials about the record. He earned plaudits from Donald Trump and became one of the nation’s leading voices on the debunked controversy. On Thursday, Dec. 15, 2016, Arpaio plans to bring a close to his five-year investigation into Obama’s birth certificate, ending a chapter that critics denounced as a shameless ploy to raise money from his right-wing base. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — 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.”

Arpaio faced a possible jail sentence due to a federal conviction stemming from his immigration patrols.

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