The Justice Department is formally resisting an effort by former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio to have Attorney General Jeff Sessions testify in the controversial Arizona law enforcement official's upcoming criminal trial.
In a court filing late Monday, the Justice Department argued that Sessions was a senator at all times relevant to the case and Arpaio hasn't shown any extraordinary circumstances justifying the move. Arpaio's lawyers subpoenaed Sessions on June 13 to testify about federal immigration policies.
Arpaio faces charges of criminal contempt of court. Prosecutors say he disobeyed a court order by continuing to make immigration arrests after he was ordered to stop.
Arpaio, a staunch supporter of President Donald Trump, has touted himself as "America's toughest sheriff" for years and has long been known for his tough stance on immigration in the border state. He lost his sheriff's re-election in November to Democrat Paul Penzone, a former Phoenix policeman.
If convicted in the trial, which is scheduled to kick off Monday, Arpaio could be sentenced to up to six months in jail.
Sessions testified at a public hearing in front of the Senate intelligence committee last week, during which he was asked questions on the Russia probe and on former FBI Director James Comey's firing.