Former Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio told a radio interviewer Wednesday that Congress is spending too much time talking about Russia and not enough time on really important issues, like proving that former President Barack Obama’s birth certificate is a fake.
Arpaio, a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Jeff Flake, told WABC interviewers Rita Cosby and Curtis Sliwa that he has evidence that Obama was not born in the United States and that his birth certificate is a forgery, according to the New York Post.
Arpaio did not elaborate on what that evidence was.
The statement was reminiscent of the early birther statements of President Donald Trump, who pardoned Arpaio in August after the former sheriff was convicted of criminal contempt of court for disobeying a court order to stop racially profiling Hispanic drivers.
Trump set himself apart from other Republican presidential candidates and drew support from the extreme right wing of the GOP with his early insistence that Obama was a foreigner and was not legally president.
Arpaio was drawn into the birther conspiracy controversy in 2011 by Arizona Tea Party activists who asked the sheriff to look into whether Obama was born in the United States, the Arizona Republic reported. Arpaio, who came under fire for failing to investigate 400 sex crime complaints during his tenure as sheriff, agreed to investigate.
Though Arpaio never revealed any evidence to indicate that Obama was not born in Hawaii, he continued to profess that belief, which was popular with his followers.
In 2011, as Obama neared the end of his first term, Republican legislators in Arizona and many other states introduced legislation demanding that presidential candidates provide evidence that they were born in the United States before they would be allowed to run.
Arpaio told the WUSA hosts he would introduce similar legislation in the U. S. Senate.
Arpaio, 85, first came into national prominence when he was accused of mistreating prisoners by making them wear pink underwear and later for his racial profiling and strong statements about protecting the border.
Those statements and his support of the birther theory brought him into Trump’s orbit. Arpaio was one of the first political figures to endorse Trump’s candidacy.
His support was rewarded with the Trump pardon which came even before Arpaio was sentenced. The president cited Arpaio’s age and his “50 years of admirable service to our nation.”
Though Arpaio’s acceptance of the pardon is considered to be an admission of guilt, according to legal experts, Arpaio has continued to insist, in a fashion similar to Trump’s assertions on the Russia investigation, that the charges against him were a result of a witch hunt conducted by holdovers from the Obama Justice Department.