President Donald Trump pardoned former sheriff Joe Arpaio on Friday for violating federal law and violating the constitutional rights of a group of people, but the president’s decision could have a long-lasting effect on Colorado’s national parks.
The pardoning is the latest twist in a saga that began when Trump fired former Attorney General Sally Yates for refusing to defend Trump’s travel ban.
Trump’s decision was widely seen as an attempt to pressure the Department of Justice to drop a lawsuit challenging the ban, but Yates was eventually fired for violating the law.
Yates told reporters on Friday that the decision to pardon Arpaio was not about him.
“I’ve never been a fan of pardons,” she said.
“But this one is not.”
But that doesn’t mean Trump didn’t have the power to pardon.
The president could also have revoked Arpaio’s conviction for violating state law and sent him to jail.
In the end, Yates, who led the Justice Department during the Trump administration, said she felt she had no choice but to sign the pardon, even if it meant taking a step toward the removal of Arpaio from office.
Yues told the Associated Press she felt strongly about the case, and that she was “absolutely” willing to sign.
“This is about protecting the parks, protecting the country and I am committed to that,” she told the AP.
Yale said she and Arpaio were close, but that their relationship had “collapsed.”
“We are not friends, and I know it will take some time for us to get back together,” she added.
“We are going to get through this together.”
Arpaio was convicted of illegally detaining people without probable cause and lying about it.
He served time in jail for his role in the scheme.
Trump’s pardon comes just days after he said he would have pardoned the former Arizona governor John Kitzhaber, who was convicted on corruption charges, if he was still in office.
Trump said he planned to make Arpaio a presidential candidate in 2020.
Arpaio has repeatedly denied wrongdoing, and his supporters say he has been unfairly targeted by the president.