PHOENIX (Reuters) - The White House has prepared paperwork for U.S. President Donald Trump to pardon Joe Arpaio, a controversial former Arizona sheriff convicted last month of criminal contempt in a racial profiling case, CNN reported on Wednesday.
White House officials declined to comment, but an administration official told CNN that talking points to be used after Arpaio is pardoned also were prepared.
Trump on Tuesday hinted he would issue a pardon for Arpaio, who was the sheriff of Maricopa County in Phoenix for 24 years before he lost a re-election bid in 2016.
"I'll make a prediction," Trump said at a rally in Phoenix. "I think he's going to be just fine, OK? But I won't do it tonight because I don't want to cause any controversy. But Sheriff Joe can feel good."
Arpaio, who styled himself as "America's toughest sheriff" for his no-nonsense treatment of jail inmates and crackdown on undocumented immigrants, faces a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a fine when he is sentenced on the misdemeanor offense on Oct. 5.
Arpaio, 85, could not immediately be reached for comment, but he said on Fox Business Network's "Cavuto Coast to Coast" on Wednesday he would continue to support Trump, whether or not he received a pardon.
"I'm with him 'til the end," Arpaio told Fox Business Network. "As long as he's the president, I will support him."
Last month, a judge found Arpaio guilty of contempt for intentionally defying a 2011 court order that barred his officers from stopping and detaining Latino motorists solely on suspicion that they were in the United States illegally.
The judge in the underlying lawsuit, brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and others in 2007, held that such traffic stops were a violation of the motorists’ constitutional rights.
CNN reported that among the talking points to be used after a pardon is issued was that Arpaio served his country for 50 years in the military, the Drug Enforcement Administration and as Arizona's Maricopa County sheriff, and that it is not appropriate to send him to prison for "enforcing the law" and "working to keep people safe."
(Reporting by David Schwartz in Phoenix and James Oliphant in Washington; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)