Trump pardoned them. Now they’re helping him return to power.

FOUNTAIN HILLS, Ariz. - At a diner known for political chitchat and Coca-Cola memorabilia, former Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio walked from table to table on a recent fall morning, asking voters to back him for mayor of his Phoenix-area hometown - and to support the former president who once rescued him from a potential prison sentence.

“Are you for Trump?” Arpaio asked one restaurant patron, as town council members, a Republican Party activist and a Bible study group ate breakfast at tables nearby.

In the six years since Arpaio received Donald Trump’s first presidential pardon, the ex-sheriff known nationally for his anti-immigrant agenda has worked hard to boost his staunch ally in this swing state - from pressing voters one by one to vote for Trump in 2024 to issuing endorsements that the former president has reposted to millions of followers online.

Never before had a president used his constitutional clemency powers to free or forgive so many people who could be useful to his future political efforts. A Washington Post review of Trump’s 238 clemency orders found that dozens of recipients, including Arpaio, have gone on to plug his 2024 candidacy through social media and national interviews, contribute money to his front-running bid for the Republican nomination or disseminate his false claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election.

Trump savored his nearly absolute power to issue pardons, which erase the civil consequences of federal convictions - such as losing the right to vote or own a gun - and commutations, which cut short federal prison terms.

“The power to pardon is a beautiful thing,” Trump said as president in 2018. “You got to get it right. You got to get the right people. . . . I want to do people that are unfairly treated.”

Arpaio’s pardon in August 2017, which forgave his conviction for disobeying a judge’s order to stop profiling Hispanics, set the bar for how the new president would bypass the rigorous Justice Department screening process and act unilaterally to bestow clemency on his political allies. More than six years later, Trump’s clemency record offers critical insights into how he might wield one of the presidency’s most unfettered powers if he is elected to a second term - potentially to undo the work of a Justice Department he scorns, to eliminate the threat of criminal prosecution against him and his allies, and to continue to build an army of indebted supporters he can call on as needed to back him.


The former president has already made clear that he would consider clemency for the hundreds of people charged in connection with the violent, pro-Trump riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. “Full pardons with an apology to many,” was how he put it in a 2022 interview.

Experts say Trump’s abuse of the pardon power while in office was unprecedented in modern times.

“The Arpaio pardon previewed a whole different approach, in which the clemency power was going to be widely used to reward cronies and score points with constituents,” said Larry Kupers, who led the Justice Department office that reviewed clemency requests but left halfway through Trump’s presidency in protest of his approach. “It looked so transactional, in that it was furthering his own interests.”

Trump’s decision to return to politics, unlike many other one-term presidents, means that he can reap the benefits of that politically charged clemency process as he campaigns again for the White House.

Many of the campaign donors, Republican operatives and media pundits who made his clemency list were well-positioned to return the favor. When mainstream social media sites banned Trump and TV networks limited his appearances after the attack on the U.S. Capitol, clemency recipients such as Stephen K. Bannon and Dinesh D’Souza extolled him on conservative platforms and offered him airtime. After some financial supporters pulled away, they wrote checks. And as Trump’s election-denying allies faced lawsuits and, in some cases, criminal charges, they continued spreading his bogus theories. One Republican consultant pardoned for a campaign finance crime, John Tate, is even working for Trump’s 2024 campaign, records show.

As former criminal defendants, these clemency recipients are particularly poised to amplify the former president’s attacks on a justice system that has brought 91 felony charges in two state and two federal indictments against him. Many of them are fueling one of the defining narratives spun by Trump for his 2024 campaign: a “two-tier” justice system in which the former president and his supporters are unjustly persecuted victims of a “political witch hunt.”

It’s a line of attack carried by a procession of public figures pardoned by Trump, from Utah state Rep. Phil Lyman (R), who slammed a government “weaponized against Donald Trump,” to business executive Conrad Black, who wrote a column branding criminal charges against Trump as “the true threat to American democracy,” to former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich (D), who assailed one of the federal indictments against Trump as “a poisonous political hit.”

Several clemency recipients told The Post they would be supporting Trump regardless of his decision to release them from prison or pardon their criminal offense. “He’s never asked me for anything,” Arpaio said. “He reflects what I believe in.”

The Post examined all acts of clemency by Trump during his four years as president, including reviewing court documents and Justice Department records, and interviewing more than 15 people who took part in clemency decision-making, most of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to disclose private conversations and avoid antagonizing the Republican front-runner. They said Trump relished the lack of checks and balances on his ability to issue pardons and commutations.

“It was like having a magic wand, which was his fantasy version of how all things should work,” one former White House official said.

“He would get really pumped about it because it was something only he could do. . . . It was like ‘The Apprentice,’” said an influential clemency advocate, referring to Trump’s reality television show, in which he single-handedly declared winners and losers.

Trump spokesman Steven Cheung said in a statement that the president’s clemency orders “went through a vigorous vetting and review process” and that he considered “each individuals’ circumstances.”

If he returns to the White House, Trump could try to pardon himself in the two federal cases pending against him. In one, he and two co-defendants are accused of mishandling classified documents after he left office. He is the lone defendant in the other federal case, which accuses him of conspiring to subvert the 2020 vote. Trump has denied wrongdoing in both cases.

A presidential self-pardon is untested in the courts, and legal experts disagree on whether such a move would be constitutional.

“In my view, there is nothing to stop a newly elected President Trump from at least trying to issue himself a pardon,” said American University assistant professor Jeffrey Crouch, an expert on federal executive clemency. “What happens after that is anyone’s guess, but it would likely be the Supreme Court’s responsibility to decide at some point.”

Inside the White House

Trump resolved to issue the first pardon of his presidency to Arpaio even before the sheriff was convicted of criminal contempt.

He and Arpaio had bonded years earlier as they both falsely contended that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States and spread phony theories about his birth certificate. Arpaio threw his support behind Trump just one month after he started running for president, long before Trump became the Republican front-runner. They became companions on the campaign trail and partners in the crusade to tighten the border by linking illegal immigration to violent crime.


So in the spring of 2017, as Arpaio faced charges for detaining Hispanics because he suspected them of being illegal immigrants, Trump asked then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions whether the case could be dropped. Trump backed off after he was advised that it would be inappropriate for the president to intervene in an ongoing criminal matter. Instead, he decided to wait and pardon Arpaio if he was convicted. Arpaio was found guilty in July and faced up to six months behind bars.

When Trump announced the pardon in August, it violated nearly all of the requirements established by the Justice Department for clemency requests. Arpaio hadn’t filed a formal petition. He hadn’t expressed remorse. While the department’s guidelines establish a five-year waiting period after conviction or release from confinement before applying for a pardon, Arpaio hadn’t even been sentenced yet.

“Trump was not going to be hamstrung by guidelines written by some Justice Department lawyers sitting in a closet,” Arpaio’s attorney, Jack Wilenchik, said. “He’s going to do what he thinks needs to be done.”

Arpaio’s pardon was widely viewed as red meat for the president’s political base, which had embraced Trump’s campaign vow to build a wall along the southern border. But Trump was also “very personally” moved by the ex-sheriff’s legal troubles, said Sean Spicer, who served as White House press secretary during Trump’s first six months in office.

“The president felt as though Arpaio had been screwed over,” Spicer said. “And the president felt that he had been screwed over often in the media, as well, and so he felt that connection with him.”

Speaking broadly about Trump’s approach to clemency, Spicer added that he “has this soft spot for people he thinks have gotten screwed.”

Top Trump administration officials involved in the clemency process, including his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who served as a senior White House adviser, and White House counsels Donald McGahn and Pat Cipollone, did not respond to interview requests. In his recent memoir, Kushner defended the ex-president’s clemency record, saying that as Trump faced increasing personal scrutiny by law enforcement, he intervened in “worthy cases” that reflected what he saw as inequities in the justice system.

“The more Trump was persecuted through partisan investigations, the more he condemned the injustice of overzealous prosecutors and wanted to help others who had been treated unfairly,” Kushner wrote.


Trump frequently attacked the federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election as a “hoax,” and he further strained his relationship with the Justice Department by disregarding long-standing clemency protocols. Officials evaluating commutation requests are supposed to consider the amount of time served, old age or serious illness, evidence of rehabilitation and cooperation with the government.

“If you don’t enforce the department’s rules, you get arbitrary decisions and corruption,” Trump’s former deputy attorney general Rod J. Rosenstein said in a recent interview. “Under Trump, the clemency process certainly appeared arbitrary because people with the right connections were able to get clemency. And to avoid the appearance of corruption, it’s important that the rules be followed.”

Less than a year after the Arpaio pardon, Justice officials were particularly concerned when Trump zeroed in on father-and-son ranchers convicted of setting a fire that consumed 139 acres of federal land in Eastern Oregon. Anti-government militants opposed to federal control of public land and conservative media were hailing ranchers Dwight and Steven Hammond as heroes.

Rosenstein said he was worried Trump would pardon the men without first seeking feedback from prosecutors involved in the case. Rosenstein said he successfully lobbied McGahn, the White House counsel at the time, to at least solicit guidance from law enforcement before pardons were announced.

“We were supposed to be a pro-law-enforcement administration, and if there are strong opinions about these people being dangerous, that’s something the president should know before making a decision,” Rosenstein said.

It’s unclear what prosecutors told the White House, but Trump freed the Hammonds from prison in July of 2018.

Rosenstein resigned in 2019, and despite his request, the Justice Department was largely cut out from clemency decisions while Trump was in office, according to many people involved in the process. The wealthy and well-connected brought clemency requests directly to the White House, jumping ahead of thousands of people who had filed formal petitions with the department’s pardon office and in some cases had been waiting for years.

Trump also took cues from Fox News, the network that helped propel his political career. Fox News host Sean Hannity, a friend and informal adviser to Trump, championed the case of Clint Lorance, a former U.S. Army officer convicted of second-degree murder after he ordered soldiers to fire on unarmed Afghans. Shortly after his pardon in late 2019, Lorance joined Trump onstage at a GOP fundraiser.

A few months later, Trump freed Blagojevich midway through his 14-year sentence for trying in 2008 to sell Obama’s vacated Senate seat. Blagojevich had appeared years earlier on Trump’s reality TV show and had recently written a column from prison saying Trump was unfairly impeached by the House over his efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate his 2020 rival, former vice president Joe Biden. After receiving the pardon, the lifelong Democrat declared himself a “Trumpocrat.”

A cottage industry of lawyers and lobbyists selling access to the White House emerged. One prominent Trump ally, Republican consultant Matt Schlapp, whose wife, Mercedes, worked for a time as a senior official in Trump’s White House, received a $750,000 fee for lobbying on behalf of an executive convicted of securities fraud, though he failed to secure a pardon, public records show.

“People were trying to jump the line and avoid the scrutiny of the ordinary process,” Rosenstein said. “If people want to pay a lawyer or lobbyist three quarters of a million dollars to advocate for them, that’s fine. But when you’re doing it to avoid the scrutiny, I think that’s unfair.”

To some criminal justice activists who view the Justice Department as biased against defendants and its screening process as too sluggish, pitching clemency requests directly to the White House created a more streamlined process. It was chaotic and capricious at times, they said, but Trump gave second chances to many deserving inmates. Roughly one-third of Trump’s clemency orders went to nonviolent drug offenders.


“I don’t think it was necessarily a good process, but we had to work with what was available,” said Brett Tolman, a former U.S. attorney in Utah who lobbied for a number of people seeking clemency. “I would like to see a system that doesn’t reward individuals based on who they know or whether they have resources.”

Presidents from both parties have at times ignored the Justice Department’s clemency guidelines under the virtually unchecked power granted by the Constitution, but none in modern times as frequently as Trump. Only 25 of Trump’s 238 clemency grants, roughly 10 percent, were recommended by the department’s pardon office, “a historic low,” according to an analysis by the Federal Sentencing Reporter law journal.

Seeking approval from the Justice Department is traditional but not required. The sole restrictions laid out in the Constitution are that the president can offer mercy only for federal crimes and not for impeachment.

“The president can pardon pretty much whomever he wants, and he can use the power as often as he would like,” Crouch said. “Trump deviated from the normal practices of Republican and Democratic presidents alike with his clemency program. Put simply, Trump regularly abused clemency for his own personal reasons.”

President Bill Clinton was widely criticized for granting clemency to 176 people on his last day in office in 2001, including issuing a pardon to Marc Rich, the ex-husband of a major donor and an accused tax cheat who fled the United States to avoid prosecution. But some former Trump officials describe his abuse of the pardon power as more far-reaching. In the last two months of his presidency, as Trump refused to concede defeat, he rolled out 194 of his 238 clemency orders - and some of his most openly political decisions.

He pardoned Roger Stone, his longest serving political adviser; Bannon, his former White House strategist; and former national security adviser Michael Flynn. He pardoned his 2016 campaign manager, Paul Manafort, and a foreign policy adviser and the Alabama chairman from that campaign. The first two members of Congress to endorse Trump, Reps. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) and Duncan D. Hunter (R-Calif.), got pardons. So did Hunter’s wife, Margaret, along with a member of Trump’s golf club in Westchester, N.Y.; the owner of a half-dozen condos in Trump Tower in New York; and a top Republican National Committee fundraiser.


“What happened was a favorability and access process that wasn’t based on a particular philosophy about our penal code,” said Marc Short, who served as chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence. “It wasn’t a process that evaluated whether people accepted responsibility or expressed remorse. . . . Pardons were offered as favors for relationships inside the office.”

Short said the White House Counsel’s Office asked if his boss wanted to add any names to the last rounds of clemency decisions. Pence declined. “We opted to stay away from it because it was very unseemly,” Short said, with the exception of recommending a pardon for former U.S. Rep. Robin Hayes, a North Carolina Republican who had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI during a corruption investigation.

The flood of clemency requests from Trump friends and family members in the final weeks is described by Cassidy Hutchinson, aide to then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, in her memoir. On Trump’s last day in office, as Hutchinson prepared to call Meadows, White House counsel Cipollone relayed a message to the chief of staff regarding the partner of Donald Trump Jr., one of the president’s sons.

“Hey Cass, while you’re on the phone with him,” Cipollone said, according to Hutchinson’s book, “Can you tell him we cannot pardon Kimberly Guilfoyle’s gynecologist?”

A representative for Guilfoyle said she never spoke to the White House about pardons. Cipollone and Hutchinson did not respond to requests for comment about the exchange; Hutchinson’s book does not include additional details.

The media champions

After Trump left office in the wake of the deadly attack on the Capitol, his future looked precarious: He had been booted from social media platforms. Political allies were peeling off. His private businesses were in turmoil. Trump and other election deniers also were starting to face congressional investigations, criminal probes and civil lawsuits.

As Trump plotted a comeback, some of his most important boosters were pardoned media figures - podcasters, talk show hosts, YouTubers and columnists - who have promoted his record and belittled his legal and political foes.

As Trump fends off criminal charges, these social influencers-turned-clemency recipients are helping him wage the battle for public opinion. They are reaching tens of thousands of voters, from Bannon, Trump’s former strategist and host of one of the most popular political podcasts in the United States, to Angela Stanton King, an African American YouTuber with a much smaller audience but just as fervent a message.

Right-wing commentator D’Souza, pardoned by Trump in 2018 for a campaign finance violation, now hosts a podcast where he regularly elevates Trump and condemns the charges against him.

“Trump may be gagged, but I’m not,” D’Souza said in one recent episode that railed against the federal judge who had ordered Trump to stop disparaging witnesses and court personnel. “I’m ungagged.”

Programs hosted by clemency recipients have also welcomed the former president and live-streamed his campaign rallies - expanding Trump’s “earned media,” the invaluable exposure that doesn’t cut into a candidate’s advertising budget.

Stone, a veteran Republican operative whose sentence for trying to impede the Russia probe was commuted by Trump, gained a high-profile perch this year on WABC-AM, one of the top-ranked radio stations in New York City. The first guest on the June debut of “The Roger Stone Show” - Donald Trump.

“I have the greatest president since Abraham Lincoln on my show, President Donald J. Trump,” Stone told his audience. “I believe that Donald Trump was put in place by the Lord at a pivotal time in American history.”

Stone then offered Trump more than 40 minutes to detail his own grievances. Trump called Jack Smith, the special counsel in the federal documents and election cases, and others in Smith’s office “bad people” and “thugs.”

Stone told The Post he did not lobby Trump for the pardon.

“I made my appeals in public in the media,” Stone said. “I had no advance conversations with the president. I didn’t know what he did until he did it.”

Bannon, whose federal charges of defrauding donors of more than $1 million in a build-the-wall fundraising scheme were preemptively pardoned by the president, attracts tens of thousands of listeners to his “War Room” podcast, according to the Rephonic podcast database. The twice-daily program regularly glorifies Trump’s “Make America Great Again” movement and tears down the criminal charges against him. Bannon also frequently reposts pro-Trump content on the Gettr social media platform, where he has more than 5 million followers.

Typical Bannon posts include “The Weaponized Justice System out to Get Trump” and “Biden Regime Fears Trump and MAGA.” He did not respond to requests for comment.

When news broke in April that Trump had been indicted in a New York case alleging hush money payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, Stanton King turned on a camera and rallied followers of her YouTube program, which has more than 45,000 subscribers. Pardoned for her role in a car heist ring, Stanton King lit into prosecutors, belittled President Biden’s appeals to Black voters and echoed Trump’s false claims about the 2020 election.

“This is not about prosecution. This is about persecution. This is about interfering in the 2024 election - because they know y’all not voting for Joe,” she told her audience in a profanity-laced rant. “They know Joe can’t beat Trump. They know they can’t get away again with what they did in 2020. So they had to try to do everything they can to destroy this man, to destroy his reputation.”

She went on to vilify Daniels. “They just made even more Black people be able to relate with him,” she said. Stanton King has been trying to help Trump erode Biden’s support among Black voters, a traditionally Democratic constituency.

In May, she appeared on a streaming program hosted by Trump’s daughter-in-law Lara Trump.

“You really do talk quite often about your story, about your interactions with President Trump,” Lara Trump said. “Your goals really are to dispel any myths about my father-in-law and any idea that some people might get if you watch the wrong news outlet.”

Stanton King declined to comment.

Helping with the campaign

Donald Trump’s clemency orders forgave more white-collar crimes than any other type of offense - tax scofflaws, health-care fraudsters, corrupt politicians and Ponzi schemers all benefited, The Post review found. Several had donated to Trump’s campaigns or had the resources to do so in the future.

The Post found 26 clemency recipients or their immediate family members have contributed to a Trump campaign account or a pro-Trump political committee. That means more than 1 out of 10 of the people who received pardons and commutations gave money either before they received clemency, afterward or in both periods, for a total of nearly $1.8 million.

Much of that tally comes from real estate developer Charles Kushner, the father of Trump’s son-in-law, who pleaded guilty to filing false tax returns, witness tampering and lying to the Federal Election Commission and served time in prison in 2005 and 2006. He was pardoned in late 2020; he gave $1 million to a pro-Trump super PAC this year.

“A few days ago, I called your father and asked if he wanted a pardon, and he said no,” Trump told Jared Kushner, according to Kushner’s book. “I know his case well, and I believe he got screwed. . . . I hope he won’t be mad at me, but I’m very proud to be able to do this.”

New York-based real estate investor Alex Adjmi had served time in the late 1990s for a money-laundering conviction. He rarely donated to federal campaigns, records show, but in 2020 he made three payments, including one contribution to the Republican National Committee and another to a joint account with the Trump campaign totaling $37,600.

Adjmi was among the 144 people who received clemency on Trump’s last day in office. This year, he donated $100,000 to a pro-Trump political committee.

“It had nothing to do with my pardon,” he said in a brief interview.

Construction executive Paul Pogue said he filed a request for a pardon with the Justice Department in 2016. “I wanted to clear my name for my family,” said Pogue, who had pleaded guilty to signing a false tax form he said was prepared by his longtime accountant. He never got a response to his pardon request, so he said he contacted Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Trump ally he’s known for many years. His son Ben Pogue and daughter-in-law also donated nearly $240,000 in 2019 to a joint account between the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee.

When the White House announced Paul Pogue’s pardon in early 2020 for filing a false tax return, it noted his extensive charity work and Paxton’s recommendation. His family then donated another $265,000 before the 2020 election.

“The pardon was based on its merits,” Ben Pogue said in an email to The Post. “We have a long history of supporting political candidates and will continue to do so.”

Republican donor and Florida real estate developer James Batmasian served time after pleading guilty for failing to pay about $250,000 in taxes on his employees. After his release, some lenders wouldn’t do business with him; one university didn’t want to accept a donation if his name was attached, he said.

So Batmasian said he called up several members of Congress, including Rep. Brian Mast (R-Fla.), a strong Trump ally, about securing a pardon. He also hired an attorney - “a political-type person” he declined to identify.

Batmasian’s pardon announcement noted his charity work and recommendations from Mast and German professional golfer Bernhard Langer, a two-time Masters champion. Six days later, Trump was spotted playing golf with Langer.

“He’s an uncle to my daughter-in-law,” Batmasian explained of Langer. “We’ve been to his home, and he’s been to our home. We know each other.”

Batmasian, who has not previously given to Trump, called his presidency “the best four years” and said he is likely to donate to his 2024 campaign.

“We’re probably going to be requested,” Batmasian said. “I have not as of yet, but I am sure it’s going to come.”

Spreading election falsehoods

After Trump left office, his former national security adviser Flynn helped launch a “ReAwaken America Tour” with an urgent message: The 2020 election was stolen.

The events have drawn thousands of people to about 20 cities around the country. “Trump! Trump! Trump!” chanted the crowd at a gathering last year in Pennsylvania where some supporters wore T-shirts proclaiming “Jesus is my king, Trump is my president.” Twice this year, the event was held at Trump’s Miami-area resort.

Trump has suggested he will hire Flynn, whom he pardoned in 2020 following his guilty plea for lying to the FBI, if he returns to the White House. “We’re going to bring you back,” he said when he called into a ReAwaken America Tour event in May.

Flynn is among several prominent election deniers who received clemency and continue to spread the falsehoods that remain at the center of Trump’s 2024 campaign.

“For the last eight years, the CIA, DOJ, and the FBI along with a Democrat Party have been focused on destroying President Donald Trump, politically, personally, and financially,” tweeted former New York City police commissioner Bernard Kerik, who was pardoned by Trump for tax crimes and played a major role in trying to reverse Biden’s 2020 victory. “As a result, today we face the greatest terror threat in our history.”

Bannon, who advised Trump’s efforts to undermine the election, and Stone, who was in contact with far-right leaders involved in the attack on the Capitol, now use their media platforms to fuel baseless election theories.

A leading driver of the “Big Lie” since Trump left office has been D’Souza’s widely discredited film “2000 Mules,” which alleges massive Democratic ballot fraud. Trump held a screening at his Palm Beach, Fla., resort and praised the film as “very conclusive” on D’Souza’s podcast last year.

As he campaigns, the former president regularly talks about a rigged election - and the film. “There’s so much proof on it . . . take a look at ‘2000 Mules,’” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” in September.

D’Souza is facing a defamation suit from a man who is shown in the film depositing ballots in a Georgia drop box. State investigators concluded the man was doing nothing wrong by submitting ballots belonging to him and family members. In court filings, D’Souza has argued that the suit should be dismissed, in part because the images of the man are blurred, and the subject is a matter of public interest. D’Souza did not respond to requests from The Post for comment.

D’Souza’s latest film is called “Police State.” It accuses the federal government and law enforcement of waging a vast conspiracy against Trump and Christian allies to prevent them from exercising their rights. “Are you next?” the trailer asks ominously.

An ally in Arizona

Arpaio’s campaign office is decorated with mementos, photos and framed magazine covers from his decades in public office. A large cardboard box contains thousands of news clippings about his pardon - just in case anyone questions the facts of the case, he says.

The former sheriff remains unrepentant about his 2017 conviction, pounding his desk and wagging his finger when discussing it. Maricopa County estimates that it has spent more than $273 million over the past 16 years on legal fees and other expenses stemming from litigation accusing the sheriff’s office of racial profiling. Arpaio called the costs to taxpayers “unfortunate.”

“I was just doing what I should have been doing, and that’s why I don’t have any regrets,” he said. “There’s no fairness in the criminal justice system sometimes. I went through what Trump is going through in a way. We both travel on the same highway.”

His 2024 mayoral bid is his fourth attempt at a political comeback since losing the sheriff’s office in 2016. This race could be the last for Arpaio, who is 91. From the parking lot outside his office building to a favorite Italian restaurant, passersby stop to shake his hand, praise his years of public service and reminisce about his pardon.

When Trump was booked in August in Fulton County, Ga., on charges of trying to subvert the 2020 election, Arpaio condemned the arrest as “overkill” in a news release and praised the former president as his “one and only hero.” Trump reposted Arpaio’s remarks on social media, as he had a few months earlier when Arpaio came to his Palm Beach club and endorsed his 2024 bid.

Arpaio also praised the former president’s loyalty and character during a recent meeting with college Republican organizations at Arizona State University.

“I will stick with him to the end,” Arpaio said. “This time, if he wins, I’m going with him to Washington.”