WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The "standard process" would be followed in considering whether President Donald Trump pardons Joe Arpaio, the former Arizona sheriff convicted last month of criminal contempt in a racial profiling case, the White House said on Thursday.
Trump hinted during an appearance in Phoenix on Tuesday that he would issue a pardon for Arpaio, who was sheriff of Maricopa County for 24 years before losing a re-election bid last year.
CNN reported on Wednesday that the White House had prepared paperwork for the pardon and quoted an administration official as saying talking points to be used after Arpaio was pardoned had also been prepared.
"I would imagine they go through the thorough and standard process, and when we have an announcement on what that decision is after that's completed we'll let you know," White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters when asked about the reports.
She said the White House counsel played a big role in pardons and "would certainly be involved in that process and any deliberations on that."
Arpaio, 85, told Reuters on Wednesday he had not had any contact with the Republican president or his staff about a pardon.
"I am very humbled about what he said about me and what he was going to do for me,” said the former sheriff, who was an early supporter of Trump's presidential campaign.
Arpaio, who styled himself as "America's toughest sheriff" for his no-nonsense treatment of jail inmates and crackdown on illegal immigrants, faces a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a fine when sentenced on the federal misdemeanor offense on Oct. 5.
A judge found Arpaio guilty of contempt last month for intentionally defying a 2011 court order that barred his officers from stopping Latino motorists solely on suspicion that they were in the United States illegally.
(Reporting by Mohammad Zargham; Editing by Peter Cooney)