Former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio said Saturday that he did not know that President Donald Trump was going to pardon him until the White House emailed the document to his lawyer Friday afternoon.
"I didn't know when a pardon was coming officially until yesterday when they faxed the pardon itself to my lawyer," Arpaio, 85, told host Steve Malzberg in an interview for WMAL Radio in Woodbridge, Va.
"It was a good present for my wife," he added, referring to his wife, Ava, who just turned 86. "It was her birthday."
Trump pardoned Arpaio, the longtime tough-talking former sheriff of Maricopa County, of federal contempt of court charges for refusing to stop his crackdown on illegal immigrants.
He had been convicted July 31 by a U.S. district court judge and faced a maximum prison term of six months at sentencing in October.
Arpaio told Malzberg that he was "humbled" by President Trump's action, though he slammed the process as "what a witch hunt this was.
"After 55 years in law enforcement, I probably had two parking tickets in my life — and I had to sit behind a defense table and take all this misdemeanor crap from the courts and the people behind this situation.
"If they can do this to me, they can do it to anybody," Arpaio said. "I'm going to try to defend the people of this country, either that way or maybe a different way.
"I'm not over yet," he said.
Arpaio said that he would be holding a news conference next week announcing his return to politics
"I'm going to be very active in the political arena," he told Malzberg. "Somebody has to speak out. I'm going to do it."
The former sheriff declined to be more specific, saying only that "I'll put the cards on the table.
"The media will not tell the truth. We've been fighting this in court.
"We've been sending out appeals and everything else, but they don’t want to get this story straight — so I'm going to have to get it straight."
Trump's decision was attacked by many Republicans, including Arizona's two senators, Jeff Flake and John McCain.
Arpaio dismissed the criticism Saturday, telling Malzberg that he was particularly "disappointed" by McCain's comments.
"I don't see him being remorseful for what he did to our country on Obamacare," Arpaio said, referring to the senator's vote last month that killed legislation repealing key portions of the Affordable Care Act. "I'm really shocked that he said this.
"I'm not going to criticize him, but I'm very disappointed.
"I really don't think it was against me, though I know he doesn't like me," the former sheriff explained. "But he just hates the president.
"By getting through to the president, of course, he gets through to me," he added. "That's his game plan, but that's all right.
"He can say what he wants," Arpaio told Malzberg. "Flake can say what he wants.
"It doesn't bother me."
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