Arizona Senate candidate Joe Arpaio (R) said Thursday that he would support President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE “regardless of what he says” in response to reports that Trump called Haiti, El Salvador and several African nations “shithole countries” in a meeting with lawmakers earlier in the day.
In an interview on MSNBC’s “The Beat” with host Ari Melber, Arpaio suggested that the president may have not made the remark, but said he would support Trump regardless of whether he did.
“How do you know he said that? Is that what he said he said? Someone heard him say that? Or did you read that in some book? I presume you got that from a book,” Arpaio, 85, claimed.
Melber informed the former Maricopa County, Ariz., sheriff that the source was actually a Democratic lawmaker at the meeting and that the White House did not deny Trump’s use of the language.
“I don’t have a position,” Arpaio responded. “Listening to everybody talking on the radio, making bad remarks and so on. It seems like everybody does it anyway. But I don’t know if he said it. I’m not going to read his mind, I support him regardless of what he says.”
Arpaio was one of Trump’s earliest supporters during the 2016 campaign, and the president pardoned Arpaio last year over a criminal contempt conviction.
Arpaio boasted of being “America’s Toughest Sheriff” and was known for his “tent city” prison complex and extreme tactics that were blasted by civil rights advocates and Democratic lawmakers.
He was found guilty of contempt in July 2017 for refusing to cease targeting Hispanics for traffic stops for the purpose of immigration checks, a tactic his opponents deemed racist.
Arpaio announced earlier this week his bid to replace retiring Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeGOP lawmakers stick to Trump amid new criticism Kelly holds double-digit lead over McSally in Arizona: poll Trump asserts his power over Republicans MORE (R-Ariz.), a vocal Trump critic.
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