The White House has prepared paperwork for President Trump to pardon former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, according to a report.
An administration official told CNN talking points were also prepared for the possible pardon, including that it's inappropriate to jail Arpaio for "enforcing the law" and "working to keep people safe."
Arpaio was convicted of contempt last month for defying a judge's order that his department not arrest suspected illegal immigrants without suspicion that they committed a state crime.
Trump did not pardon the former sheriff during a large campaign-style rally in Arizona Tuesday but hinted he would indeed pardon the 85-year-old, known for forcing inmates into pink underwear and to eat "bread and water" for unpatriotic vandalism.
"I won't do it tonight because I don't want to cause any controversy," Trump said, after launching intense speculation by telling Fox News he was considering a pardon. "But Sheriff Joe can feel good," Trump said.
Arpaio faces a maximum of six months behind bars, though incarceration is not certain. He intends to appeal.
The ex-sheriff, whose office arrested journalists who published his home address, told the Washington Examiner on Tuesday evening he wasn't disappointed about Trump not pardoning him at the rally.
"It's up for the president to decide if and when," said Arpaio, whose long career included police patrols in Washington, D.C., and more than two decades at the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Trump has teased and then not delivered a pardon before, notably in the case of Kristian Saucier, a former sailor jailed for a year for taking photos deemed classified inside a submarine. Saucier's case became a campaign-trail talking point, compared favorably against Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server. Days after taking office, Trump said he was considering a pardon.
"I no longer understand why he said what he said about me previously, other than to gain some votes by using our family's misfortune for his own personal gain," Saucier said in a recent message from prison. "Honestly I hope he is not doing the same thing to Mr. Arpaio."
Ronald Daigle, an attorney representing Saucier, said in a Tuesday email "it felt like we were kicked in the stomach" hearing news coverage of a possible Arpaio pardon, given the frustrations of Saucier's experience.
CNN did not indicate when Trump may pardon Arpaio, who is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 5. A report last week by Infowars, a website specializing in conspiracy theories, said White House counsel Don McGahn had prepared pardon paperwork on Trump's request. McGahn did not respond to a request for comment.
Any act of clemency by Trump, who has been in office 214 days, would break with the recent tradition of early-term stinginess. Former President Barack Obama waited 682 days to use his constitutional clemency power, George W. Bush took 699 days and Bill Clinton waited 672 days.