tv Anderson Cooper 360 CNN August 25, 2017 5:00pm-6:00pm PDT
dodd he wi do d.o.d. helped craft it and shape it and secretary mattis has some flexibility how he develops the strategy. >> thank you very much. and thank you for joining us. i'm jim sciutto. it's been great to be with you this week. our breaking news coverage continues with "ac 360" and john berman tonight. >> good evening, john berman in here for anderson. right now, millions of people along the texas coast are facing the most serious storm they've seen in decades. hurricane harvey was just upgraded to a category 4 storm, delivering not only winds but the potential of feet of rain. feet, not inches. and a 12-foot storm surge, as well. and the possibility the storm may linger for days. this one, said a top official, is going to be a marathon, a multiday event. a significant disaster. and late this evening, city officials in rockport, texas
advised anyone who has not left by now to write their name and social security on their arm to help recovery crews identify them later should they discover the body. we have reporters and meteorologists and new information just in from the national weather center. i want to start off with cnn's martin savidge, feeling the worst of it in corpus christy. what is the latest right now? >> reporter: we're under an extreme wind warning. we could see wind speeds up to 145 miles an hour. if that happens, i wouldn't be standing. but the wind has just continued to blast corpus christy and the trees here are bending to the point where you swear they're going the snap. the rain is just now a fog almost, because it's become so midwest f mystified by the heavy winds and the gusts that hit you are
almost like a physical punch. and then there's the steady roar of the ocean, the wind, the trees. sit a massive amount of energy that's being unleashed right now, and it's in a level that people refer back to say katrina or in this area, celia, which was a health caurricane that ha devastating effects in 1970. but the real concern is not just the wind event, it's the rain. that's going to linger for days. there was not a mandatory evacuation order here. many people did decide to go on their own accord. that was yesterday. you could see a long line of cars going north on 37. the rest are going to have to shelter in place. there's no way anyone should be out in this kind of weather trying to evacuate, and the emergency services have said that they are not responding to emergency calls unless it is absolutely life and death. and even then they'll make it on
a call by call basis. the storm surge, 6 to 12 feet, could be a serious problem for the low-lying area for corpus christy. we're in for a very tough night, john, and it's only getting worse. >> martin, it does look brutal where you are. if you can still hear me, almost unbelievably behind you, i saw two cars driving by. the evacuation order was not mamd toir, with y mandatory, but is it too late for people to get out? >> reporter: these are sight seers for the most part. as hard it is to believe with a category 4 storm. that is nothing to sight see about. there's just no accounting for them, but the truth is, disaster can come in a heart beat. a tree branch that breaks loose, any small piece of debris
because becomes a lethal weapon in this kind of wind. that's the reason the first responders won't go out in this. it just is not safe to be driving about, john. >> as you said, another car drove behind you. martin, the conditions in the hours ahead, is the worst still to come here? >> reporter: it is for all of south texas. once the wind abates, and that's going to be a very slow process, so the wind will continue to blow, but the ground becomes super saturated, you have a problem of problems with that, especially trees coming down. this storm is just going to linger in this whole area. and the amounts of rain -- sorry, the amounts of rain anticipated is measured in feet. and that kind of water buildup on top of what they've already had is damage. most folks can't imagine what it's going to be like.
900 first responders standing by the moment when this storm abates. john? >> talk to me about the storm surge, martin. you did mention that. it could be 10, 12 feet we understand in some parts of the gulf coast. would that be enough to cover for instance where you are? are there low lying area there that are a concern? >> reporter: here we should be all right, assuming it doesn't go above that. so this is about some of the highest area you'll find here. but if you go out on padre island, some of the other islands out here in the barrier areas, you talk 12 feet, that's over some of those areas. so some areas the max is nine feet, so you are clearly going to have large areas totally inundated with water. the difficulty is, as most of that water falls from the sky,
it's just going to continue. and we're talking about the long-term possibility of large areas covered in water. that means relief efforts can't get in. people trapped can't get out. it becomes a katrina-like situation. i'm not saying this is a katrina. let's not go there just yet. but the way that they describe it, the language of the national weather service uses and the way this storm continues to blast, it's language we haven't heard since katrina. >> martin savidge for us in corpus christy. you can see how tough it is for martin to stand out there. with us on the phone from that city, the mayor of corpus christy. mayor, thank you for being with us. we just spoke to our martin savidge on the streets right now. what is the biggest concern you have for your city? >> obviously, it's water, flooding.
you know, we've not had a rain event like this with the threat of 10 to 12 foot storm surge plus 20, 30 inches of rain. because our drainage goes into the bays. so it doesn't have anywhere to go and it's being pushed back up the drainage system, that's going to back it up throughout the city and slow down the process. we don't drain real fast to begin with. but so far, things seem to be going according to the plan, getting people that wanted to help, getting people evacuated, that's all taken place. we statalked with people in san antonio, the mayor. they assured us that they have a lot of corpus christi folks up there. i'm looking out my window.
we've had electricity blink on and off, and at some point we'll lose it. >> the intensity raised to a category 4 storm. i know the evacuations were not mandatory, but as we were talking to martin savidge, we saw several people drive by in cars. what is your message to those folks and to people who might have decided to ride out this storm in their homes? >> well, they want to ride it out in their homes, that's fine. i certainly don't think it's good judgment to be out on the treatments driving around, because the wind could broadside a car, lose traction and cause a wreck or worse. but it's just staying in shelters, homes, and just wait for it to pass. our goal is to make sure we
don't have any fatalities result of this hurricane. reports i've heard, most fatalities as a result of the hurricane is because of a drowning and bloods. so that's why we encouraged and pushed people on padre island, mustang island, north beach, to seek higher ground. because the water is rapidly moving. it's just not a good combination for people to be in. >> not at all. >> we hope they're paying attention. we can't force them to leave. but i think it's an exercise in poor judgment in they're driving around. >> category 4 storm bringing those high winds with a storm surge that could reach 12 feet, with rain that could dutch another two to three feet. this will be a very difficult time for you.
our thoughts are with you. stay safe, please. >> we appreciate it. we're going to stay the course and follow our plan. and hopefully it will be a successful one. >> thank you, mayor. i want to go to chad myers now. new information just out on this storm. what's the latest? >> the hurricane center did raise the potential surge to 13 feet from 12. i know that's not a big deal unless you live at 12 1/2 feet. here's another answer to your question, why don't you want to heave now? if a power pole falls in front of you, you try to turn around, and one falls behind you, you're stuck on that road and you can't get out. you can't go anywhere, and you're going to ride out a cat 4 hurricane in a car? bad idea, because that car is going to get picked up by flood waters and moved away.
martin savidge is about 16 feet above sea level, but behind the hotel it's 4 feet above sea level. so likely even where we are here, our truck will be surrounded with water, at least for a while, until it drains off. here's something else about how much rain is going to come down. someone i respect very much just tweeted, dr. marshal sheppard, this keeps getting worse when i think it cannot. and that's what he thinks about this storm, because it just keeps getting worse. the storm is staying over very warm water, 86 degrees, and getting bigger. it's not only getting a stronger wind field, but bigger width wise. so from lake charles to houston to galveston to beaumont to brownsville, and it's going to be with us all night long. unfortunately, we may be here next friday still talking about
a storm that hasn't left texas yet. >> chad myers, thank you very much. we'll come back to you. we do have some breaking news we want to get to. in the face of this storm, the most powerful storm to hit texas in decades, one of the most powerful storms to hit the united states in decades, the president has chosen this time to issue a very controversial decision, a pardon of a very controversial figure. cnn's sarah murray joins me now. sarah, joe arpaio pardoned. >> reporter: that is right, john. the president has decided, the white house just released a statement saying the president has decided to pardon sheriff joe arpaio of arizona. obviously, this was very controversial. they made a big deal about the fact that the president was not going to do it when the president was in feephoenix, arizona, but he hinted arpaio would be fine in the long run and the white house had paperwork ready for this pardon. now, in this statement, the
white house lays out arpaio's history of military service, career in law enforcement, and i just want to read you the last line of it. sheriff joe arpaio is 85 years old and after more than 50 years of service to our nation, he's a worthy candidate for a presidential pardon. the reason he needs a presidential pardon is a court held him in contempt for violating a judge's order in a racial profiling case, and for continuing to target immigrants in terms of traffic stops. this comes at a time when president trump is under fire for race relation. people are wondering in the wake of his comments in charlottesville, equivocating white supremacists with the counter protesters who were there, where the president stands on these issues. so in many ways people felt this was not the right time for the president to make this move. i spoke to some of the president's supporters in phoenix, and they said they were big fans of sheriff joe and felt he should be pardoned.
but doing at this point, one person told me, would be political suicide. you can imagine it will be plenty of criticism awaiting. >> and sarah murray, people talk about friday night news dumps. this isn't just a friday night news dump, it's a news dump in the middle of a huge hurricane. any sense that this was going to happen either way? i know the white house had been preparing for this, but why did they decide now? >> reporter: i was told even before this phoenix rally that look, the president wants to do this. he does really want to pardon him. this is something that has been on the president's mind. so look, what better way to bury controversial news than beneath a category 4 hurricane. i think you're seeing a traditional friday news dump. this white house has sort of turned this into a regular thing. they've been firing top staffers on friday evening on the regular lately. so they've gotten into this rhythm of taking bad news,
releasing it late on friday night and hoping it blows over by monday. >> and i do think it's important to remind people, sheriff joe arpaio was also a devoted birther. he was one of the people very involved with what the president or then candidate or citizen donald trump was, suggesting that barack obama was not born in the united states. joe arpaio had investigators searching for the birth certificate of the president. so sheriff arpaio connected to that. is that some connection, a connection to anyone in the white house is concerned about? >> reporter: it's not clear why the chpresident and sheriff joe developed this close relationship, but again, you point out this birther thing. the timing of this is just terrible for president trump.
people are questioning what his view is of race relations in america, particularly in the wake of those comments in charlottesville and you saw him when he was the president and on stage in phoenix angry about the fact that anyone would suggest that he might be a racist, that anyone could suggest he was equivocating white supremacists. deh he did do that. so if you're a person in this country concerned where our president stands on race relations, i don't think that this pardon is going to make you feel better about this situation, john. >> sarah murray for us at the white house. you're talking about whether or not he equivocated white supremacists with the other marcher. gary cohn suggested that he did. joining us with more news, republican strategist alice stewart. and on the phone, republican strategist anna navaro.
ann anna, you worked for senator john mccain when he was running for senator. what is your reaction to the pardons of joe arpaio. >> part of me is not surprised. at this point, i don't expect anything positive out of donald trump. part of me is shocked, shocked that in a week where there's been the backlash after charlottesville, in a week where he just now signed the order banning transgenders, it's like this guy all he wants to do is represent the 34% base. he's not the president of the united states of america. he's the president of the divided states of america. all he wants to do is pit americans versus americans. he's got to know what it means to the latino community to pardon joe arpaio. it is a slap in the face for most latinos. this man has served his career
on being a guy who does racial profiling. he is symbolic of attacks on the hispanic and latino community of arizona. what he has done today, donald trump, is another slap in the face oh the latino community. >> alice stewart, anna's opinion there is clearly something that the white house knows or knew going in this decision. so make the white house case here, why do this? what does trump get out of this? >> first and foremost, you have to remember sheriff joe was an early supporter of president trump, and they both share the same views on building the wall and securing our boboarders. but with record regard to the charges against the sheriff, president trump said he was doing his job. this was part of his job, enforcing immigration laws. clearly it was against the law and he was found guilty. but it's always been known that the president was going to do this.
he felt this was part of the sheriff carrying out the duties as sheriff, and it was a matter of time. as he said, he felt as though the sheriff didn't have anything to worry about. but the white house statement, they said look, he's 85 years old. he has 50 years of service to this country. and he is deserving of a presidential pardon. this is certainly that's going to cause a lot of outrage and a lot of controversy from some people. anyone who thought this wasn't going to happen when this came about would be sadly mistaken. >> the message specifically to his core supporters who stood with him through his reaction to charlottesville. >> absolutely. the two of them share similar views on a lot of issues, specifically with immigration and specifically with being stuff on crime and the sheriff is being america's toughest sheriff. he had very controversial views,
having tent cities, and the way he treated people that he had under his care and custody. but look, they shared similar views, and simply the fact that he was such an early supporter of trump and did support his position on building the wall and tough enforcement. >> if the white house is so proud of it, why dump it on a friday night while a hurricane is hitting? that whimight indicate another feeling for it. anna, we're getting close the president may be doing about dhaka, tda daca. president obama deemed these children could live here legally. the president may just ban future dreamers, as it were. the combination of these things,
the pardons of sheriff joe arpaio and daca, what is the significance? >> the significance is the immigrant community is ginormous. my heart bleeds for those dreamer kids living such an uncertain future right now. these are kids that are american in every way but one, legally. these are kids that want to contribute to this country. they are among the best in this country. so the united states congress, the senate, the house of representatives act, get off your back and act. it's time that you pass legislation. it is unconscionable to have those children be suffered to the pandering of ath base of donald trump. the congress of the united states has the duty to act. if they don't want to see this happen. if they don't want to see families separated and the economy affected by those
dreamer kids being denied their dreams, then congress better act. they are a co-equal branch. they ha i am calling on paul ryan, who in a town hall on cnn, he told a dream act person she had nothing to worry about. call on all those senators and congress people that know this is the right thing to do, not allow trump to do this. it should be done legislatively, not by executive order. we need to figure out a way to do a compassionate and fair way to treat those young people. >> back to sheriff joe arpaio. i got this note at 8:04 p.m., when cnn learned that the president had decided to pardon the sheriff. what do you make of the timing on a friday night during a hurricane? >> ummm, i think again, it's
nothing but yet another bone this president is throwing to the 34%. another bone that he's throwing to his base, while antagonizing so many other americans. while slaps so many other americans in the face. while leaving so many americans feeling like they are not represented by donald trump. and i think they're doing at this time because it gets him the right attention from the part that he wants, while the rest of us are horrified for the people of texas who are about to get hit by a hurricane. >> guys, with me on the phone right now, jonathan turley, constitutional legal scholar. thank you so much for being with us. there is no disputing that the president has absolute power to issue pardons, correct? >> that's correct. it's virtually unreviewable. the only limitation deals with impeachment. >> of course, what the president has said is that he believes
sheriff joe arpaio was just enforcing the law as he saw it, cracking down on immigrants. that's not what the courts in arizona found, though. >> no, various judges looked at this case and didn't see any merit to that argument. the sheriff showed what i think was uniformly viewed by the court as open contempt for the authority of the court. he was told to stop these arrests. he didn't do it. and he rather publicly adopted a position of obstruction. what's odd about this, this is not the type of case that normally warrants presidential intervention. first of all, it's unlikely he would spend time in jail. this is a first offense, and it's relatively minor in the great scheme of things. so usually presidents will wait for sentencing and in this type of case, they tend not to be
moved towards a pardon. so this is remarkable on a number of levels. >> jonathan turley, thank you very much. i have to go back to the white house now, because this remarkable friday night continues. sarah murray at the white house. we just got word of a significant white house staff resignati resignation. >> reporter: yes, john. sebastien gorka has resigned. this is significant thbecause h was an adviser to the president. he had a habit of making controversial comments. one thing that was really notable about him is no one seemed to know what issues he was working on. when you talked to people working at the national security council, they would say that he wasn't involved in discussions or decisions there. yet he billed himself astz a
national security adviser to the president. we know that john kelly has sort of been taking a look at everyone's positions in the white house, running through what their job is, whether they are in a good position to serve the president. and so it's possible this was a futch wall decision. we don't have a lot of details about why he decided to resign tonight. this is something people have been talking about over the last couple of weeks and a question that got even louder after steve bannon was fired. >> the chief of staff, john kelly, one of the things he was said to have been doing was to figure out what everyone's job is. it was reported that sebastien gorka's was the hardest to find out. so not surprising this happened. less surprising this happened on this friday night, when the white house has chosen to do so much while this hurricane is hitting. joining us now on the telephone, the attorney for sheriff joe
arpaio. thank you for being with us. your reaction to this news that your client has been pardoned? >> yeah, thanks for having me. we're very excited. this is the culmination of a lot of hard work and something that's been very tough for the sheriff to deal with. we're just very proud to see the president has done the right things. >> when did first have contact on the possibility of a pardon? did you know this was coming? >> well, we've heard it for a couple of weeks publicly that the president was seriously considering doing this. and white house counsel -- the sheriff says -- was in contact with him last week. today i was contacted by white house counsel, and he indicated the president had already signed it at approximately 3:00 p.m. so around 6:00 eastern.
and i've got a copy of it right here. >> so you were told several hours ago at 3:00 that the pardon had been signed. we only found out about it after 8:00 while this hurricane was hitting. any sense why the signing of it, you being notified and then announcing it to the american people? >> i was e-mailed a copy pretty promptly here. it appears it was signed today, 25th of august -- [ inaudible ] >> our connection is not so good. i fear i might lose you right now. but talk to me about the white house counsel phone confidence with sheriff arpaio, what was the nature of that conversation a week ago?
>> they called him to confirm that he would accept it. it's the same conversation i had today. it's part of the law that a pardon does need to be accepted, and these need to be filed in court to be effective. there's a couple cases in history where the person rejected a pardon. >> just now, now that this is all over, does the sheriff think he broke the law, which the courts in arizona did deem yes? >> to this day, we contend and he actually was innocent. you know, if not for this, in light of this, what we're going to do is ask the court to dismiss the case, ask for an acquittal. ed a this not happened, we would have spent years to fight for his innocence. >> thank you so much for being with us. back on the phone with us, jonathan turley, professor of
constitutional law. you just heard from the lawyer right there. the process by which this happened, the phone conversation last week between the white house counsel and sheriff joe arpaio, that was news to me, and this phone conversation today with the sheriff's attorney, is that standard operating procedure in this type of incident? >> there is a process by which you can seek pardons. there's a pardon attorney in the white house that filters through thousands of petitions. presidents often do not exercise pardon authority very actively at the beginning of their term. it's well known, i file these things myself, that the best time to ask the president for a pardon is when they're heading out the door. so the timing is rather good for
the sheriff. this is the type of action that probably won't sit well with many judges. this is a president who has had some totable conflict with judges. he's criticized a couple of judges on a personal level. many of us have criticized the president for those comments. but it's clear he doesn't have the best relationship with the judiciary. this is not going to improve that relationship. i understand sheriff arpaio's counsel, who clearly has done a very good job. but very few people saw much merit in the sheriff's position that he was not in contempt. >> the courts in arizona were clear that they felt it was contempt of court. i want to bring in cnn's jeffrey toobin on the phone with us, as well. you just heard jonathan turley
say this was an unusual pardon as far as pardons go, and highly political. >> yes, i think it is much more a political than a legal act. most pardons that presidents issue go through the justice department and involve relatively low level people. president obama had a major program of trying to commute and pardon the sentence of individuals who had been convicted of low level drug offenses. but joe arpaio is a deeply controversial figure in arizona and indeed the whole country. someone xwwho is the face of extreme immigration enforcement, who was deeply loathed by the hispanic community in arizona. and similarly loved by the base of the republican party there.
he had been pursued by the justice department for years for many civil rights violations, and he was only finally just convicted in this contempt of court case. but joe arpaio is a very famous, notorious person in arizona, and someone who is a very high profile supporter of donald trump. and donald trump was a very high profile supporter of joe arpaio. this is a very important political act that i think will be one of the defining acts of this presidency, especially as it regards to the hispanic community. >> there is a debate right now whether or not the president should do this. but there is no debate, i want to make it clear again, this is within the president's power. >> i think these a very important point to make, that the pardon power is one of the few absolute powers that a
president has. pardons cannot be reviewed by the courts, they cannot be overturned by congress. this is a sole power of the presidency. and it doesn't require that someone be convicted and sentenced to a crime and the most famous pardon in american history is that of gerald ford of richard nixon before he was charged with any crime. so it can be a preemptive pardon. joe arpaio had not been yet sentenced for criminal contempt. so there can be and will be a debate about whether this pardon was wise or appropriate, but there can't be any debate whether president trump had any authority to do it.
clearly he did. >> anna navaro has been listening to this conversation and wanted to jump in. >> yeah, listen, we are not making the connection between the sebastien gorka resignation and the joe arpaio pardon. there's obviously a political back and forth here. sebastien gorka, steve bannon being out, that's something that the alt-right base was not going to like at all. so i think it's not a coincidence that dposgorka is on the same night arpaio is pardoned. so he didn't something the base wasn't going to hike, blike, bue same night, he pardoned joe arpaio, which is something the base will like and embrace. i think this is tit for tat. i think this is quid pro quo.
this is him thourowing them a de that they will eat up entirely. bannon is out, dposhg gorka i r arpaio is pardoned and transgender are banned from serving. >> do you think that's a reason assertion? >> without a doubt. i think she made a great connection there. tonight, the trump administration made chief of staff kelly very happy with sebastien gorka leaving. he didn't appreciate his policies or his nationalist views, and he had been taking a lot of seat since charlottesville. there are some who took his comments assympathizer, and took a lot of heat which reflected on this administration.
once bannon was out of the picture, gorka was next. with regard to the base, 35% of the base the president is working hard to keep that base. with regard to sheriff arpaio, a poll came out yesterday said 74% of republicans want him to build the wall and secure the border. he's energiziing the border, so he's keeping his promise he h build that wall even if we have to shut down the government to do it. so he is throwing a bone to his base, but the staff in the white house is happy about gorka. it's no surprise it happened on a friday night. unfortunately, it will get lost in the huge news, which is really a concern for this country, which is the hurricane coming. but this is typical of the administration to drop controversial news late on a
friday. but this late on a friday during a health care raiurricane raise questions. >> millions in its path and days of torrential rain. jeffrey toobin, if you're still on the phone, you point out that so off we know and remember the final pardoning of a presidency, because sometimes the president try to sneak in the most controversial pardons at the end there. this is the first pardoned issued by president trump since he's been in office. what doesage and signal does that send about how he might use this unquestioned authority going forward? >> you're absolutely right, the controversial pardons usually come at the end. and that the very controversial pardons that bill clinton issued at the end of his presidency,
including that of mark bridge, who was a fugitive at the time. and tripatricia hurst was pardo by bill clinton. this suggests the president is going to use the pardon power in a very political way. he's not just going to lose it for the low level drug offenders that barack obama mostly -- that president obama used for his presidency. and i think it is a power within that the president clearly possesses, no doubt about that. it is something that anna correctly pointed out is something of great interest to his base. joe arpaio is very popular with the republican base, and that's who is going to be pleased by this. >> alice stewart, you run communications for many a politician in your time. i know it's processed, but i
don't want to lose sight of the timing here. it's after 8:00 on the east coast, and a hurricane is hitting texas right now. this is a classic news dump. >> it is classic news dump. he skouf done this at the rally when he was in arizona the other night. >> sheriff joe arpaio's attorney said he knew at 3:00 in the afternoon. so they've been sitting on this for five hours. >> right. we all knew this was going to happen at some point. he could have done it in arizona and said, you know, threw up the flag for it the other night saying look, i think he'll be just type. so we all knew this was going to happen. from a communications stand point, if you have a piece of news you know will be extremely controversial and you would like it to die over the weekend, you don't put it out there in the middle of the week or in the morning, you do it on a friday, ideally a holiday weekend. but you do it late on a friday
and hope it gets buried in the news cycle. that's not what happened with this. this is a huge story. as jeffrey said, this isn't so much a legal issue, this is a political issue. he is sending a statement he supports what sheriff arpaio says, and the fact that arpaio has been so supportive of him early on is a big part of this. the sheriff is very unconventional. the two of them have that unconventional leader type mentality. >> guys, just remember what the president himself said about this when he was in arizona just tuesday night at this big rally in phoenix. he said, he hinted, he indicated he was going to do this but playing cute during his speech. let's play that sound. >> was sheriff joe convicted for doing his job?
he should have had a jury. but you know what? i'll make a prediction. think he's going to be just fine, okay? [ applause ] but i won't do it tonight, because i don't want to cause any controversy. >> i won't do it tonight, anna navaro, because i don't want to cause any controversy. i'll do it friday night after 8:00. >> right. and i will do it right after pardoning -- right before announcing that gorka is out. not only the timing is no coincidence, the sequence of the two events are no coincidence. first, he threw them a bone. then he took that away. first, it was pardoning arpaio so the base was happy with that. and then comes the announcement
that gorka is out. something the base is not going to like. all of this is masterful work of pr. the art of the pr is what this is. frankly, i'm surprised that this white house, which has been so discombobulated when it comes to pr, got this one right, when it comes to pandering to the base. but he doesn't seem to care what the other 65% of americans think, certainly not what jewish folks thing, not what african-americans think. certainly after the transgender order done today, but he does care enormously about his base. he's spent a lot of political capital. a lot of times we've seen him make him happy. and i think that 35% of
americans is -- they've got themselves a very active advocate president in donald trump. the rest of us, not so much. >> do we still have sarah murray at the white house right now? sarah, i want to go back to you there. two questions that are related here? is the white house done tonight? these news bits keep coming out. do you have a sense they're done tonight? and related to that, in terms of the white house staff, we know that sebastien gorka is out. steve bannon, one week ago tonight was out. gary cohn said he's reluctant to leave, he's still there now. any more changes coming? >> well, this white house doesn't give us a huge heads up and never declare a full lid,
which means there could be more statements to come at any time. when you look at gary krmcohn, t of the issue with gorka, they didn't know who his tv was. he was on tv a lot and president trump liked his tv appearances. but in terms of the work he was doing at the white house, other people who worked on national security issues, said gorka wasn't involved in the process. gary cohn has been a key figure when it comes to shaping the president's plan on tax reform and roll those out. next week is going to be a big week. the president is supposed to be traveling to missouri and talking about it. we're supposed to be getting more specifics from the white house. so it's harder to get rid of someone like gary cohn.
you heard that sarah huckabee sanders say that gary's comments were actually a surprise. is the president likely to be happy about that? no. he doesn't like to be criticized publicly. but these are two people in very different positions in the white house, john? >> alice stewart, the president's approval rating, 34% in the latest poll. which is awful. does this combination of moves today, sebastien gorka out, joe arpaio pardoned, the transgender ban signed today. does he think this helps him get above 34%? >> based on what he's done over the last few weeks, it doesn't seem to be a factor in what he's doing. politicians is about the art of addition, and not subtraction.
what he's being doing is energizing that base, satisfying the people that helped him get elected. he needs to get him on board. he needs to expand the base and bring about more people that are still hoping that we can get some legislative childrenmeaccos done. we knew the pardon was going to happen. he believes in his immigration policies. sebastien gorka leaving, we knew this was going to happen when we saw steve bannon leaving. this is someone that not only general kelly, chief of staff, didn't want there. but jared kushner also had concerns with some of the statements he's made and some of the statements he's made on television. so between the other folks we have in the white house right now, it was just a matter of
time before gorka was leaving. but clearly that this was done on a friday night shows that yes, he wanted this to die on the vine, and not make an impact with the public. but he needs to start expanding the base and the issues that are important to a lot more people than just his base. >> joining us now as part of this discussion, bakari sellers. a remarkable 48 minutes we've had right here, from the news that the president issued his first pardon of joe arpaio, gorka out at the white house. >> first of all, i don't think you have any credit for having a neo-nazi for being forced out. you don't get a pat on the back for that. it is interesting to see him leave on this friday night under the cover of darkness enveloped in a category 4 hurricane. what's more concerning is the law and order president has pardoned someone who has been convicted, not charged, but
convicted with criminal contempt for violation of civil rights, for making -- for allowing his patrols, in violation of a court order, to steadily go out and racially profile hispanic individuals. joe arpaio has racist tendencies. i'll stop at that line. what donald trump did is an affront to so many americans today. to put it in context, there are immigrants right now in texas who are afraid to flee their homes and evacuate, because they're afraid of order patrol and other individuals rounding them up. that is a fear and paranoia. the person that stoked that, the person who wrongly ripped people away from their families is sheriff joe arpaio. and now, donald trump, the law and order president, has gone as far as pardoning a man who has racist tendencies. and in this last two weeks to alice's point, he hasn't
expanded his base one bit. in fact, i wouldn't be surprised if more >> it hasn't been seem to bleed support as far as polls go. the court clearly felt otherwise. hang on, guys. i have to go back to the white house. sara murray has new details about what's gone down there. >> this is from our justice reporter who is reporting that the justice department had no role in sheriff joe aparo's pardon. this is the president's pardon. we know from earlier this week from reporting that the president did not go through the typical route you would go to pardon somebody. that's through the office of pardon attorney at doj. instead, he decided to issue his own pardon under powers granted to him through the constitution. just sort of another oddity in this process that the president
would do this on his own. would do it days after. sara huckabee sanders said he wasn't going to announce it at a rally in phoenix. the president went on to hint it was coming at some point. clearly this is something that the president wanted to do. sources said it's something the president was talking about doing even when his aides said he wouldn't announce it at that phoenix rally. that's exactly what president trump did. >> the attorneys for sheriff joe sources indicating justice department was not involved. president went outside the normal pardon process. it's within his rights to do. it's not generally the way it's done. on the phone with us now, democratic congressman for state of kansas. your reaction to this pardon?
>> joe aparo is a stain on law enforcement across the country. for years he targeted and harassed hispanics in arizona. he should have served his time. this was wrong for the president to do. >> the white house said the president said it tuesday night that he felt that sheriff joe arpaio was doing his job. >> the courts disagreed with his assessment. for the president not to go to the department of justice and the regular vetting process for a pardon is just another astonishing oddity of this presidency. >> obviously, congressman, you are a democratic. sheriff joe arpaio is not. you are also hispanic. give us a sense of the view in the hispanic community of sheriff joe arpaio. >> well, i think that obviously he was targeting the hispanic community in arizona that bore
the brunt of his bigotry and he used his office to harass people because of their skin color. it wasn't just hispanics that booted him out of office. it was the people of maricopa county that finally had enough. everyone rejected ultimately his practices. >> this goes back some time. people might remember the show us your papers. this has to do with the fact that sheriff joe arpaio felt he could ask people for proof of their legal status in the united states before these folks were charged with any specific or apprehended for any other specific charge just on the basis of suspicion by the officer. the court said he couldn't do that he kept on doing. they convicted him of contempt of court. go ahead congressman. >> that's right. he basically created a situation where if you were a person of a certain skin color in the phoenix area, then you had to be
worried about having to prove your citizenship if you were stopped by a deputy sheriff, for example. and he repeatedly did that even though a court told him to stop. ordered him to stop. the reason that he was criminally convicted is because he ignored the judicial branch and he continued to do that even after he was ordered to stop. today the president of the united states validated that by pardoning him. >> put this in the context of the last two weeks. not a normal two weeks by any stretch of the imagination. charlottesville and the president's response to it and his response to the criticism of his response to it and now he caps it off this friday night with the pardon of joe arpaio. >> it has been an extraordinary few weeks including the president's response in charlottesville. a time when he should have been able to easily stand up there and unite the country and bring people together, he seemed
insistent upon continuing to divide people and to take sides with people like joe arpaio as he did today. >> and again, just to be clear, you do not doubt or question in any way the president's power, his authority, to do this nchts no. . >> no. the president has wide power to pardon individuals. there's not been a question about his constitutional authority, but i think obviously a very poor decision. >> all right. thank you for being with us. i do have to say obviously you represent the san antonio area right now. a lot of people have been evacuated to your city to get out of the way of hurricane harvey, which is bearing down on the coast right now so our thoughts are with you and yuour constituents. we'll get you get back to work to serve the citizens of texas right now in the eye of the storm. on the phone with us is the ethics adviser to president george bush, richard painter is
with us right now. always a pleasure to have you with us. your legal expertise here. again, the president has the power to do this. the power to pardon sheriff joe arpaio, which he did. what is your reaction to the news? >> he has the power i guess to pardon anyone he wants other than himself. this is really quite shocking. 99% of police officers are great police officers. 99% of sheriffs. they put their lines on the line every day for us. you have a very small number of cops or bad cops. sheriff joe is one of the worst. systematically discriminating against racial minorities and that's the kind of thing that stirs up a lot of anti-police sentiment that we have going on in various parts of the country, and he disobeyed the order of a court. this is a country where we have a rule of law. this is not a democrat or
republican issue. i've been a republican for a number of years. the president has to do it. contempt of court is a crime. the president of the united states should not be giving out a pardon to a lawless sheriff who conducted himself this way. it's really quite shocking. this is an attempt to appeal to a very small percentage of the american people who favor racial discrimination, discrimination against black and mexicans and others and that's not the republican party of today. that may be the direction of so-call so-called alt right wants to take us. that's not the republican party today. that's not america. i'm troubled by this. a very, very bad decision for the president. >> richard painter, i can hear in what you're saying right now you don't have a very high opinion of sheriff joe arpaio. i don't know how closely you've had a chance to look at the
case, the legal process in arizona that earned him the conviction for contempt of court. was there anything unusual about it? anything that might, you know, beg a second look or have the white house say, hey, this wasn't done right. maybe he deserves a pardon? >> i haven't been through the record. as the role of the department of justice when they review requests for pardon, there's a system for this, and that obviously want done. this is a decision made by political operatives in the white house and the president and wanted to appeal to the far right base. they also fortunately fired sebastian garko who was a complete bafoon. maybe they needed to throw a bone to the far right. it's troubling when the president of the united states is trying to appeal these type of people. >> richard, stand by.
alice, you have something to follow up on on the process that was followed here. sawy sarah murray reported this was not a traditional process where it goes through the justice department. the report is the justice department wasn't involved here. >> the interesting thing with her making that statement, went back and took a look at the briefing yesterday. sara huckabee sanders was asked about this. did the president seek a recommendation from the pardon attorney or the deputy attorney general or did he seek an fbi background check with regard to making this happen. she said from what she understands going through standard, normal thorough procedure with issuing a pardon. clearly it doesn't appear that was the case. it simply appears this was something the president has always planned to do. never questioned that this was an intent of what he wanted to do. he doesn't see that sheriff arpaio did anything wrong. didn't see that he broke the law. he sees this as executing his job as sheriff of maricopa
county and this was inevitable that this was going to happen. >> one of the things i want to point out and i think it's good for viewers and everyone else to understand what we're talking about when we mention the fact that he went around the process and richard painter pointed it out extremely well this was political in nature. barack obama during his pardon process had what the white house affectionately called a double blind process. the president didn't want to know who was applying for a pardon. he didn't want to have anything to do with it while it was at the department of justice. many people remember the pardons that bill clinton gave and everyone else gave to get in that level of trouble. he didn't want to touch that. for someone to come along right now and make a pardon without going through any of the proper procedures or protocol which is political. anyone that says this pardon is anything but political -- this does not serve to meet any end of justice whatsoever. you're pardoning a racist. it actually shows you the compare and contrast that we