Speaking in a radio interview recorded on Saturday, former sheriff Joe Arpaio declared “I’m not going away” and hinted at a public career move one day after being pardoned by President Donald Trump.
Arpaio also used the interview to hit back at Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) for criticizing Trump’s decision to pardon the former sheriff for criminal contempt of court. Arpaio said he was “a little surprised” by McCain’s comments and alleged that McCain was just trying to “make the president look bad.”
Arpaio slammed McCain for casting a decisive vote on a bill to repeal some parts of Obamacare: “Think of that. Think of that and how many people are going to suffer. He should be supporting our president.”
Arpaio was convicted last month for defying a judge’s order to not detain suspected illegal immigrants. He had faced up to six months in prison and possible fines.
Fresh from being pardoned by Trump on Friday, Arpaio was speaking in a recorded interview set to air Sunday night on this reporter’s talk radio program, Aaron Klein Investigative Radio, broadcast on New York’s AM 970 The Answer and NewsTalk 990 AM in Philadelphia.
Asked directly whether he is planning to seek a political position now that he has been pardoned, the 85-year-old Arpaio replied:
You know what, I told my wife I’m not finished. I’ve got a lot of things in mind. Since I left office I’ve been very busy. I’ve got my own office setup. I’m not going away. Why would I go away?
I told my wife when I left office after 24 years with the sheriff’s office, 55 years in law enforcement around the world – I dedicated my whole life to fighting crime and defending our country – I said I’m never going to get involved with politics. That’s what I told her. And then I changed my mind when I saw what was going on. Not just with me, but with the president and with the system.
During the interview, this reporter read to Arpaio a tweet from McCain that was critical of Trump’s pardon.
— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) August 26, 2017
Arpaio hit back at McCain:
I’m a little surprised at the senator. He did call me after my (election) loss… I’m really shocked that he took that shot at me. I stayed out of his race as a matter of courtesy and he called me after I lost. ‘Anything I can do for you?’ Well, thank Senator. Thanks a lot.
Maybe it’s not just me. He doesn’t like the president so going after me he figures will make the president look bad. But that’s sad. That’s how politicians are. Remember who the deciding vote was on Obamacare. Think of that. Think of that and how many people are going to suffer. He should be supporting our president.
Apraio further responded to frequent Trump critic Jeff Flake, McCain’s fellow Arizona senator, who tweeted of the pardon: “I would have preferred that the President honor the judicial process and let it take its course.”
Arpaio asserted that Flake “is trying to make points with the mayor. And all those other Democrat politicians and all of those activists saying the same thing.”
Arpaio said that he is in debt for millions because of the “sham” case, and is seeking help with the costs through his legal defense fund.
He went on to praise Trump, saying “I would still support him regardless of the pardon.”
“I’m glad he had the guts to do what he did,” he added. “I’m just sad that he has to take some heat from certain media outlets if you know what I mean. But they go after him all of the time. When he does anything they tear him apart. I have never seen anything like this.”