Nearly a week after Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump acknowledged for the first time that President Barack Obama was born in the United States, there is at least one Trump ally who is not giving up the birtherism quest: Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
Speaking to the group that asked him in 2011 to look into the president’s birth certificate, Arizona’s Maricopa County sheriff told about 200 supporters Tuesday that he was “not going to give up,” as first reported by The Arizona Republic.
“I don’t care where he’s from,” Arpaio said at a gathering of the Surprise Tea Party Patriots, according to the paper. “We are looking at a forged document. Period.”
Arpaio, 84, is also known as the sheriff of the department accused of continuing to racially profile Latinos after a federal order was issued to halt the practice.
The sheriff was an early supporter of Trump endorsing him in January as a “great patriot.”
The two have a much longer history, though: Arpaio was one of the first public figures to align himself with Trump’s obstinate mission to “seek the truth” about President Obama’s birth certificate.
“You are the only one with the ‘guts’ to do this,” Trump scrawled on a printed article about the birther movement to Arpaio in 2012. “Keep up the good fight.”
In July, the sheriff was invited to speak on the final night of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, where he echoed his support for Trump and his hard-line stance on immigration.
Arpaio told the Surprise Tea Party crowd this week that Trump’s pivot on the birth certificate issue would not change his mission, the Republic reported.
“I know all the politicians say, ‘Sheriff, don’t talk about it,’ ” Arpaio said, according to the paper. “But how can I back down when we started it? I’m not going to just forget it.”
Arpaio’s comments directly contradicted Trump’s statements last Friday, when he admitted for the first time that President Obama was born in the U.S. — but also inaccurately pointed at Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton as the one who started the rumors.
The Washington Post, along with many other media outlets, have debunked that claim in numerous fact checks.
Arpaio, who bills himself as “America’s toughest sheriff,” will soon face Justice Department lawyers in Washington in a years-long legal saga over whether he intentionally defied federal orders to stop racially profiling Latinos.
He also is running for his seventh term as sheriff of Maricopa County.
Arpaio’s ongoing legal battles did not hurt him in Arizona’s primary election in August, when the incumbent sheriff easily beat out his three Republican challengers. He now faces Democratic candidate Paul Penzone in the November general election.
Penzone, a former Phoenix police sergeant, also ran against Arpaio in 2012, coming in second by six percentage points.