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Then-presidential candidate Donald Trump with Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio (Mary Altaffer / AP).

President Trump told Fox News Sunday that he is "seriously considering a pardon" for Joe Arpaio, the former Arizona sheriff who was recently charged with contempt of court for refusing to obey a federal judge's order to stop traffic officers from racially profiling suspected undocumented immigrants.

"He has done a lot in the fight against illegal immigration. He's a great American patriot and I hate to see what has happened to him," said Trump.

Background: 85-year-old Arpaio, nicknamed "America's toughest sheriff", received national attention for his aggressive treatment of inmates, including "forcing inmates to wear pink underwear and housing them in desert tent camps where temperatures often climbed well past 100 degrees Fahrenheit," per Fox News. Arpaio endorsed Trump in January 2016, and later handled security for some of the then-candidate's rallies.

Arpaio's reaction to the news: The ex-sheriff said he'd accept Trump's pardon, "because I am 100 percent not guilty," but added that he would never ask for a pardon if "it causes heat... I don't want to do anything that would hurt the president."

Timing: Arpaio is set to be sentenced on October 5 and could face up to six months in jail. However, some attorneys have expressed doubt that he'll receive any jail time, due to his age and his clean record with no prior convictions.

Go deeper

Updated 6 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Inauguration Day dashboard

U.S. Capitol and stage are lit at sunrise ahead of the inauguration of Joe Biden. Photo: Patrick Semansky - Pool/Getty Images

President Biden has delivered his inaugural address at the Capitol, calling for an end to the politics as total war but warning that "we have far to go" to heal the country.

What's next: Biden, Harris and nearly all the living former presidents and their spouses lay a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery.

Inaugural address: Biden vows to be "a president for all Americans"

Moments after taking the oath of office, President Biden sought to soothe a nation riven by political divisions and a global pandemic, while warning that "we have far to go" to heal the country and defeat a "virus that silently stalks the the country."

Why it matters: From the same steps that a pro-Trump mob launched an assault on Congress two weeks earlier, the new president paid deference to the endurance of American political institutions.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

In photos: The Biden and Harris inauguration

Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th president of the United States. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were inaugurated as president and vice president respectively in a ceremony at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday morning.

Why it matters: Top Democrats and Republicans gathered for the peaceful transfer of power only two weeks after an unprecedented siege on the building by Trump supporters to disrupt certification of Biden's victory. Trump did not attend Wednesday's ceremony.

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