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Monster Hurricane Makes Landfall; Gorka Out, Trumps Pardons Arpaio; Interviews with Rep Blake Farenthold (R-TX), Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ). Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired August 25, 2017 - 23:00   ET



[23:00:15] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: So here is the breaking news on a busy Friday night. A monster storm pounding the Texas coast and the White House dumps the major breaking news tonight right in the middle of it. This is CNN tonight, I'm Don Lemon. First off, Hurricane Harvey, one of the most powerful hurricanes in years, taking aim at the Texas coast. The national weather service in Houston warning that parts of south Texas could be uninhabitable for weeks or even months. The President signing a disaster proclamation for the state. And as the hurricane bears down on Texas, a political storm in Washington. President Trump pardons controversial former sheriff, Joe Arpaio, who was convicted of criminal contempt over his hardline tactics against undocumented immigrant. Plus White House adviser Sebastian Gorka, who down-played the threat from white supremacists is out tonight. We'll have all the latest on this busy might night of breaking news. Our reporters are out in the middle of the storm tonight along the Texas coast and you see a number of them tight there. CNN Chad Myers is in the hurricane headquarters. CNN Martin Savage is in Corpus Christi Texas, We're going to get to Martin first, because Martin you are out in Corpus Christi and experiencing it, what are you seeing right now?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It may seem like the weather is slightly improved just by the fact that I am night not being beaten up so severely. But the truth is, the wind just shifted so slightly as a result, just around the corner of this building, if I stepped over there, I would be gone in an instant. It is just like a wind tunnel of massive proportions over there. And the wind is still continuing to blast Corpus Christi, as it's been doing for a number of hours. But really, the past two hours have been the most intense. And it's started to have an impact. 63,000 people locally without electricity. And then on top of that, the city of Corpus Christi, just as a precaution, issued a boil order. The public water system now just because of all the rain and wind cannot be trusted to be safe for drinking.

So, as a precaution, they're telling people to boil their water. So what we're doing is now getting a taste of what life could be like after Harvey finally finishes here. But we're nowhere near that point yet. You can hear, you can hear the wind starting to really wind up. That is one of the things that in the dark makes you nervous. I can hear it wind up and then it delivers the massive blow. The building is doing a lot to protect us. If you have not left, again, do not try to leave under these conditions. The time to life was leave was long ago. How many people stayed? We're not for sure. There were a lot of people on the highway yesterday, that as 37. Think we're going north towards San Antonio. They heeded the warnings.

This is one of those that you fear's a City planner, there's very little time to prepare the public or get them out of harm's way. They had maybe 72 hours, maybe 48. That is not enough time to board up and get out. A lot of people may be stuck where they are. It's going to be another dangerous night, and I'm not even talking about the rain that will come in the next couple of days measured in feet. We just have to get through tonight, first. Don?

LEMON: Can you hear me this time, Martin? How's your earpiece working out?

SAVIDGE: Yes I can.

LEMON: You can.


LEMON: The big concern of course when the winds get that high and reason people are told, projectiles, you have to be very concern on the projectiles, that wind will pick anything up and come slamming right at you.

SAVIDGE: It will. And one of the first things the city did was they started to prepare and tell people to get into their yards, to look for just that kind of debris. Anything that could be picked up in winds now in excess of 100 miles per hour. It would be lethal. We were walking just a bit ago. Checked the water. There was a (inaudible) that came out and hit me in the back. It hits you with the force of a Louisville slugger. That left a mark. Can you imagine if there any piece of debris from a building or a street sign. That can be potentially lethal. The fact it's been blowing a long time may suggest that the really light stuff's already gone a long way away. Now you worry about the tree limbs, trees, the big stuff breaking off. But in the darkness, you wouldn't see it until it was right on top of you, Don.

LEMON: Stay safe, you and your crew out Martin Savidge in Corpus Christi. I want to go now to Galveston, we find CNN Ed Lavandera. Ed describe the conditions where you are on Galveston right now.

[23:05:10] ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are on the eastern edge of Hurricane Harvey. And it's hard to overstate enough how nerve-wracking one of these hurricanes, especially a hurricane this powerful making land fall in the darkness. To give you a sense, we were driving out along Sea Wall Boulevard to survey the situation, get a better sense around different parts of the island how things are holding up. For the most part we saw conditions very well. I saw power on in many of the neighborhoods in the areas that we drove around. But when you're out here in the darkness, the wind is howling so loudly, it is really hard to hear anything beyond that, and not being able to see any kind of objects swirling around in this wind is highly nerve-wracking and also highly dangerous. So those warnings of urging people to stay indoors, that is one of the reasons why. In this darkness with the winds blowing the way they are, it could be a very treacherous situation.

Now one of the main concerns as we talked about especially in the overnight hours leading up to the sun coming up tomorrow, what kind of help do people need, the eye of the storm coming between Corpus Christi and Galveston island. Smaller communities, smaller roadways. They are prepositioned high-water rescue teams in various areas for that very reason. Those rescues, if need, will probably be taking place as soon as the sun comes up tomorrow morning, and you can bet we'll be paying close attention to that as what is left of this storm or how much more it intensifies, we'll have to see in the overnight hours really begins to play out here. So far, here in Galveston Island things holding up well, much of the power in the neighborhoods, we've driven around is still holding up. The wind continues to sustain at high velocity. I haven't seen any major down the power lines or trees so far this evening, Don.

LEMON: All right Ed Lavandera. Ed, I want you to stay safe as well as all of our crews, Martin Savidge as well. I want to turn now to our breaking news. We will get back to the weather in just a moment. We are paying close attentions to what is happening down there on Texas Coast. Let's talk about what's happening at the White House. White House aide Sebastian Gorka out. And President Trump pardons Joe Arpaio, tweeting tonight I am pleased to inform you that I have just granted a full pardoned 85-year-old American patriot sheriff Joe Arpaio. He kept America safe. CNN Alexander Marquardt has more for us. Alexander thank you so much for joining us this evening. Reaction to the President's pardon of sheriff Arpaio has been swift. Tell us about it.

ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Swift and growing condemnation on both sides. We should note that right out of the gate, the Justice Department and others are making it clear that this was distinctly President Trump's decision. This was a call by him. This was a personal pardon by the President. A spokesman from the Justice Department saying the president exercise his lawful authority and we respect his decision. A source telling CNN, this is the President's pardon. Joe Arpaio was a staunch supporter of President Trump's during the campaign. He was the surrogate on the campaign trail. He was convicted of criminal contempt for refusing to stop racially profiling Latinos. And the other night, President Trump held a campaign rally in Phoenix. There was a lot of speculation as to whether the President would be announcing some sort for of pardon at the rally. That speculation because the President's approval has narrowed. He has played more and more to the base. And this is the kind of thing they would like to see.

In fact, I was at that rally. He did asked the crowd how they felt about Joe Arpaio. They roared with approval. He did say at that campaign rally, Joe Arpaio will be fine, which we took to mean this pardon was just a matter of days away. That may play well with his base, but it is being swiftly condemned on both sides of the aisle. We've just got statements in from Senator John McCain, saying the President has the authority to make this pardon, but doing so at this time undermines his claim for the respect for the rule of law.

We have also got and statement from former acting Attorney General Sally Yates who was fired by President Trump shortly after he came into office. She tweeted, with his pardon pen, Potus reveals his own contempt for our constitution, our courts and our founding principles of the quality and justice. So this is going to play well with his based. It is red meat for the types of people who came out to that rally in Phoenix, but on a more macro level, on a political level, it is being criticized with growing force, Don.

[23:10:18] LEMON: Basically at the rally you were at earlier this week he announced without announcing that he was going to pardon on, everyone knew exactly who he was talking about, you're right. But I want you to listen to this and everyone at home to pay close attention to this, because this is Sheriff Joe Arpaio speaking to Fox News tonight.


JOE ARPAIO, FORMER SHERIFF: I love that President. He supports law enforcement. And I'm very humbled. If you recall, two years ago I supported him. And I said publicly, recently, pardon or no pardon, I will be with him till the end. And I'm going to have a news conference early next week and get to the bottom of this. Show the abuse of the judicial system in politics. I'm not going down without trying to defend myself to all those people that don't like what I have done.


LEMON: So he is going to get to the bottom of this, Alexander, but also he said he was going to get to the bottom of President Obama's birth certificate by sending investigators on a story that turned out to be a conspiracy theory and false as well. But, again, as you said, this President now trying to shore up his base, because he was losing support among his base, and this action will probably, is being seen as exactly that. Appealing to the people, the 33 percent or 34 percent he already has.

MARQUARDT: Right, so that, you know, that base has, has dropped dramatically. Like you say, it's in the mid-30s. And we've seen time and time again, the President playing to this base and going off message. I mean, when he was at this rally the other night, and keep in mind, this was not a campaign-style rally, and it was a campaign rally that was organized and paid for and organized by the reelection committee. And he had just come off of this big speech on Afghanistan in front of the military troops, reading off Teleprompters, getting widespread praise from not just his base but from fellow Republican colleagues and people across the military community.

And then he held this, this campaign rally, and the big question was, was he going to be freewheeling? Was he going to be on script? Was he going to be reading off the Teleprompters? And it quickly became clear that this was going to be campaign Trump. And this, of course, comes at a very, a dark time in this country in the wake of those -- the deadly violence in Charlottesville. And he clearly felt insulted that he wasn't praised more for his response. And he is apparently itching for a fight. And this was the first chance to address the public. So when he did come out, he launched into this tirade, a lot of it directed at the press for, for not giving him the respect he felt he deserves for those comments after Charlottesville. He was playing to this audience. He loves that energy. And it's very hard for him to resist trying to shore up that base, when he really had bigger fish to fry.

LEMON: We will get back to this, I want to thank you for that Alexander Marquardt. I'm just going to read this and get folks to respond to it. This is Chris Murphy, tweeting the Arpaio pardon is a big middle finger to America, a loud, proud declaration that this administration supports racism. Talk about that story here all evening here on CNN and into the morning, but I want to get to our other breaking news story now. Hurricane Harvey, a category four hurricane, monster storm, making land fall along the Texas coast with winds of up to 130 miles an hour. Joining me is Ed Rappaport, the deputy Director of the National Hurricane Center. Thank you sir for joining us. I now you're very busy, we appreciate you taking the time. So describe what Hurricane Harvey is doing right now. Has it made landfall?

ED RAPPAPORT, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, NATIONAL HURICANE CENTER: Hurricane Harvey is making landfall, as we speak. It's coming ashore, as we said, as a category four hurricane. And we've already received winds, reports of winds of 111 miles per hour, gusts to 130 miles per hour, to the southwest of the center near port Aransas, Texas.

LEMON: What can Texas residents in the path of the hurricane expect, Mr. Rappaport, next?

[23:15:00] RAPPAPORT: The two biggest concerns are rainfall and storm surge, with the storm surge coming first. Storm surge is where the water rises along the shore line, being driven by the strong winds that we just talked about. That will bring the water level up to as much as 13 feet above ground level near to the northeast of where the center is coming ashore. Water levels are already up about five feet and are going to continue to rise. The storm will stall very near the coast, just inland. That is the other problem we're expecting. Rainfall on the order of 20 inches or more in this area. With isolated amounts as much as 40 inches, record rainfall amounts, extreme flooding is possible.

LEMON: Oh, my goodness. So can you talk to me about this, if you can, we've seen some of the animation saying and the projections saying that this storm could make landfall and then back up and go back out? To the gulf? And then come back again? What is that?

RAPPAPORT: That is possible, but that is a long ways down the road. The biggest concerns are for tonight with the storm surge and the next two to three days, maybe even five days, because of the very heavy rain. Again, we're going to have flooding over a large part of coastal Texas. Whether the storm goes offshore later, that is possible, but right now we have the flooding.

LEMON: I was just wondering about it sitting there and providing all that water and storm surge. That is when you can have substantially more damage. Thank you, Mr. Rapaport, I appreciate taking you time, I know you're very busy right now.

RAPPAPORT: Thank you.

LEMON: Hurricane Harvey making landfall along the Texas coast, but the effects of the storm are being felt miles away. Joining me on the phone is Mitch Landrieu of New Orleans, Louisiana, my home state. Thank you so much, listen I was just texting with my family a short while ago, and they said they're starting to receive some rain. What are the conditions right now in New Orleans? What are you guys seeing?

MITCH LANDRIEU, MAYOR, NEW ORLEANS LOUISIANA: They're ok right now. But what that gentleman just said is ominous. If you look at the diagram he had up and you saw the colored bands that rang around the center. Those are the things that could potentially flow into Louisiana, because that storm is likely to stay there for a bit. And the longer it stays there, the more rain will fall and more potential inland flooding. We are watching this very, very closely, you can see Lake Charles was the last time I actually saw you. They're having major problems there in Cameron, and that may make its way over to New Orleans sometime later in the week. That is what we're watching very carefully.

LEMON: That is why I asked that last question. Whenever you have a storm sitting like that and just weighing on the land and covering back and forth and moving back. We know from Katrina, the storm surge caused most of the damage.

LANDRIEU: The tendency is to look at the storms categories, three or four. Some can give you storm surge problems, some can give you intense rainfall, this is giving all of that. And it's moving slowly, and it's a getting stuck. And that is a prescription for some really substantial damage, and, as you said, the problem is the storm can last four or five days. And when you take the cumulative rainfall, it is a huge problem for inland flooding, and that is the thing we're most concerned about later in the week. We have to watch it, because after Tuesday, they don't really know what that storm is going to do. And as the gentleman said, there is a possibility it could move back out into the gulf and it would get strong again. And we just don't know what it is going to be, which is why we have to be really prepared.

LEMON: Is it possible for them to give New Orleans, Louisiana an accurate rainfall forecast? Do you know how much rain you're expecting in the coming days?

LANDRIEU: No, it's too early to tell. But I think what they're concerned about is a front holding that storm in place and then ha they call rain bands that are very large and can drive intense amounts of rainfall in short periods of time. And the past Tuesday, they don't know what's going to happen yet, which is really what the challenge is for preparation. That is why you lean forward, prepare for the worst, hope for the best. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Texas. That is a major storm, and there is going to be serious damage as a result of it.

LEMON: Let's talk about Louisiana. And New Orleans, specifically, and the levees. All the work the army corps of engineers did. Your drainage system. Can they handle what you're expecting?

LANDRIEU: We think so. There are couple of challenges, first of all, the levee system is a lot stronger than it was. And our emergency services are. The pumping is another question. It can only sustain so much water in a short period of time. Right now we're at below capacity. We're hoping this thing gets weaker as it comes over to Louisiana or not at all. And that is going to be the challenge for us, which is why we started prepositioning assets about a week ago and making sure that everybody is well prepared in the event we get some of that flooding that you know could come from a storm like this.

[23:20:06] LEMON: I'm thinking about you guys. Be safe, Mayor Mitch Landrieu of New Orleans. We appreciate you joining us.

LANDRIEU: Thank you so much. I appreciate it. Take care. Bye-bye.

LEMON: When we come back, much more on our breaking news, monster Hurricane Harvey, making landfall along the Texas coast. You heard the national weather center saying it's happening right now, it is making landfall. On the night President Trump pardons controversial Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Sebastian Gorka, it is the latest in the White House.


LEMON: We are back now live. Look at these pictures. That is Corpus Christi. Look at the winds there. You see that tree. Unbelievable. And it is still early on. Still more to come. Hurricane Harvey making landfall on the Texas coast right now as we speak. Let's discuss this. The joining me on the phone, Congressman Blake Farenthold in Corpus Christi, representative. Thank you for joining us. How are you? Are you safe? What's the situation where you are?

REP. BLAKE FARENTHOLD (R), TEXAS: Well, the wind is howling. I'm actually at my home. State and local emergency responders are in the center, and I'm working via text messaging and e-mail to make sure all the federal assistance is there. We have President Trump signed the disaster declaration which makes things a whole lot easier. But looking out in my yard, I have an uprooted tree. And my back yard has a few roofing shingles on it. Looking up, water stains are starting to come through.

[23:25:14] LEMON: We wish you the best. This is just the beginning. What are you hearing from your constituents?

FARENTHOLD: Well, fortunately, most of the low-lying areas were ordered evacuated yesterday, and quite a few people heeded that warning. But there are some people who chose not to leave the low- lying areas, and our prayers are with them and hope they make it through, the 911 services simply aren't available there. Emergency responders may not be able to get to folks who need help until the worst of this passes. LEMON: Representative Farenthold, are you satisfied with the

preparation that happen before Harvey made landfall?

FARENTHOLD: We are going to see how it gets through it on the federal level. FEMA has prepositioned a lot of food, tarps and water. And it's about three hours away from Corpus Christi but is further enough inland that those resources aren't going to be in jeopardy from the storm. So I think the thought is we're going to see how they deliver. We've learned a lot from Katrina and Ike, but this is a unique storm. I'm afraid we'll have tough lessons here too.

LEMON: You said Sabine, Texas where the resources are?

FARENTHOLD: Sabine, Texas near San Antonio and Austin.

LEMON: Got it. I'm from Louisiana. I just wanted to make sure I heard what you said. In the midst of this category four hurricane, the President made a number of surprising decisions. He pardoned the former Sheriff Joe Arpaio. He instituted his military transgender ban. He got rid of Sebastian Gorka. I want to start with Arpaio. Do you support this pardon?

FARENTHOLD: I am in the middle of a hurricane, that doesn't (inaudible) whether Republican or Democrats. I'm just thankful the President has stepped up and signed the disaster declaration there. As for what's going on in Washington and the rest of the country for me, that could probably wait until next week when I'm sure my family and constituents are all safe.

LEMON: And I think you're absolutely right on, on that. I have to ask you, since you are a Republican and supporter of the President. I just wanted to know when if you supported his decision. Let's talk more about the resources there. You said you learned from Hurricane Katrina and talked about the resources where they're being marshalled tonight. What do you do with those who decided to stay?

FARENTHOLD: There's nothing the state or local government can do. Ultimately, you are responsible for yourselves. And Texans are very resourceful. Neighbors who stayed will be there to help, but it's going to be tough. We're expecting high winds and rain for a long time. And it could be the better part of a week or more before electricity is restored. It's going to be miserable throughout much of the congressional district.

LEMON: Again, it's a little bit tough to hear, you do not have electricity, and did you say that?

FARENTHOLD: No, my electricity went off about 3:00. I'm operating with flashlights and with my cell phone.

LEMON: Let' hope that last long. Do you have a generator?

FARENTHOLD: I do not. I have a friend who is going to let me hang with him. We think President Trump will probably make a visit down here in the early part of next week, conditions permitting. So my house will be, if it survives the storm without electricity, I'm going to be working throughout the district to make sure that they get the federal resources that they need.

LEMON: Representative Fahrenthold, best of luck, good luck to you, be safe going to that friend's house. But if he has a generator, that is a good place to be. So we appreciate your time here on CNN, thanks again. We're still talking about this monster hurricane Harvey making landfall in the Texas coast tonight. The White House dropping a bomb with President Trump's pardon of the controversial Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Plus the latest exit from the administration, Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka. Here to weigh in now is Congressman Steve King on the phone, Congressman thank you so much for joining us, I am sure your first word are to the folks of Texas, what would you like to say to them?

REP. STEVE KING (R), IOWA: I'd like to say hang in there and hold strong and be safe. We'll keep you in our prayers and our nation stands with you. I'm happy to hear the words of Fahrenthold. We just came back together from a trip. I can envision him with a cell phone and flashlight in the dark, but hang in there. It's not the first time for Corpus Christi. It's going to be a long, hard slog.

LEMON, CNN TONIGHT NEWS SHOW HOST: I have to ask, the president doing all of this, knowing that the hurricane was hitting the Texas coast, well aware of that, pardoning Joe Arpaio, why do you think this was shoe on in on a Friday night with a category four hurricane barreling to Texas?

KING: I don't have any insight into that, I just know that Fridays have been the days that Presidents have issued notices like this. I think they are designed to buzz through the weekend and die down the next week. From my standpoint, Monday morning would have been a good time or Tuesday or Wednesday. This pardon of Joe Arpaio is something I think America will support and the people who supported Donald Trump will be glad, the base will be behind the President. My heart's gone out to Joe Arpaio on this for a long time. He is been drug through the legal grist mile for seven or eight years. I think it's the right decision for the President, but I believe Joe Arpaio would have been exonerated if he had a chance to appeal. That is the only thing I regret it.

LEMON: So you support this.

KING: I do. I support the President's decision to pardon Joe Arpaio who served this country for all of his adult life. He is 85 years old, strong, bold, confident in the tip of the spear and enforcing immigration law.

LEMON: But he broke the law. But he broke the law. He didn't abide by the law, and he hasn't been sentenced yet. I got to ask you these questions. He broke the law. He didn't abide by the justice department, the guidelines that they gave him, he has not been sentenced yet and the president already pardoned him. What about the rule of law here? No concern with you for that?

KING: That, I would say that my understanding is that the Judge-made law. That the Judge made the law up from the bench. And it began way before that when Democrats on the judiciary committee began to complain publicly and call upon the Obama Justice Department to go after Joe Arpaio. This was driven from politics in the beginning. And I don't think anybody can quote the statute that was violated. Instead, it was a Judge that made it up from the bench.

LEMON: I'm not a legal scholar, or legal expert but what I have heard from our legal folks here on CNN who are nonpartisan, they are saying the Justice Department issued a directive, they told me they have to abide by the law, and he broke the law. And that is why he was accused of what he did and found guilty of what he did and that the President in their estimation was not abiding by the rule of law as well by issuing this pardon.

KING: The President has the authority to pardon.

LEMON: He does have the authority to pardon. He does have the authority.

KING: He does have the authority, yes.

LEMON: He does have the authority, but he had not been sentenced yet. What our legal expert says, Laura Coat, is that he is not following the rule of law. He should have at least waited until he was sentenced. That he should have served that and then a pardon.

KING: I think that is a significant, I'll say liberally interpreted. There may be a tradition out there to wait until the conviction would be delivered, but I don't think there is for anybody to serve their sentence. I saw this coming as a political persecution. I now Judge Arpaio. I've gone down and looked at the operation. He was functioning within the law and had a 287-g program that authorized him to enforce immigration law and was operating under Arizona sb-1070 law. They changed the rules on Judge Arpaio. I remember him saying at the time, I said I'll help you. He said I don't need your help. I don't need the federal government to enforce this law. I have the authority to do so. He believed in that. And I believe in it, actually, and I think that the decision of the Supreme Court on sb- 1070 was erroneous, and, but that doesn't mean we don't respect it and honor it, but the 287-g program was pulled so they could persecute him for profiling. That was their intent. I heard it many times before they followed through. This has been a long grist mill that he is been dragged through. I'm glad the President has pardoned him and given Mr. Arpaio and his wife some relief. Now he is says his political career isn't finished, so maybe he has got another opportunity to enforce the law again.

[23:35:27] LEMON: Let's talk about what we know. The former sheriff was found guilty of criminal contempt for disregarding a court order in a racial profiling case. So I'm not sure if what you're saying about this case is actually what happened.

KING: Ok. I hear that, and that is a respectful dissent, and appreciate the tone in what you said. But I would argue substantially more. That there is no law against profiling. And I'm using the broader term of profiling. I'm not saying specifically racial profiling. There is no prohibition on that. Law enforcement officers would be almost impotent if they didn't profile people. If you look for someone 6 foot tall and 180 pounds and driving a pinto, that is a profile.

LEMON: Is the President now saying that racial profiling is ok by the pardoning? Because you're saying there's no specific law against it, but, again, legally, I'm not sure if you're accurate on that.

KING: Don, let me make this assertion. I've had this debate in the judiciary committee. If you're enforcing the law, and race is a component of the profiling that you're using, that is entirely legitimate. And it needs to be. It would be ridiculous for us to say that is the one thing we can't take into consideration. That doesn't mean that you're a racist or biased. It means you're using the evidence that is out there to put together the information to be efficient when you make your decisions as a law enforcement officer. I grew up in a law enforcement family, and that went on all the time.

LEMON: But if you are targeting people or picking them up or arresting them or holding them just on the basis of how they look or their backgrounds, that is essentially --

KING: If race was exclusive, that would be wrong. If it's a component of other pieces of evidence, it's a necessary component to do efficient law enforcement.

LEMON: Yeah. Well, let me ask you about your cohorts in Washington. Both Arizona Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake have criticized this pardon, and presumably, they know this sheriff and the situation in their state best. What's your reaction? It's their state and they know him.

KING: I would probably think I've spent more time with Joe Arpaio than either of them. But think have been essentially for open borders. They don't want to secure the border. They want amnesty. They have been for amnesty all their political life. So you often see people take a position that is consistent for what they hope gets accomplished with regard to their policies that they favor, rather than an objective look. And I just, I just watch this political persecution take place under the Obama administration. And when they pulled the 287-g program from Maricopa County, at that time it was conclusive to me, that it was an effort to prohibit him from enforcing the law. And think wanted to punish Joe Arpaio, because they wanted open borders.

LEMON: You realize that Joe Arpaio, I'm sorry, I don't mean to cut you off. But Joe Arpaio has been controversial for decades, not just under the Obama administration, under the Bush administration as well, and maybe even before that.

KING: I do.

LEMON: So why is it a political, from the Obama administration, why wouldn't it be a political from the Bush administration?

KING: It could be the Bush administration had a higher standard of integrity and was less political in the Justice Department. But I saw this, from the sight -- seat in the judiciary committee. I watched as judge Napolitano started to bring this case and I watch as the Democrats on the judiciary committee fed those kind of questions and laid the ground work for this. I've seen political persecutions before. I saw it happen to a number of people who were former Bush officials that were brought before the judiciary committee for their political persecution and their political prosecution, to use that word figuratively. So I've seen the pattern. I saw it happen with Joe Arpaio, and now I see the conclusion of it, I'm glad it's over and I hope this country can heal up and we can get rid of the divisions between us. And pull together as Americans.

[23:40:07] LEMON: Representative Steve King of Iowa, thank you sir, I appreciate your time.

KING: Thank you Don.

LEMON: When we come back, much more on all of our breaking news on this busy news night as Hurricane Harvey makes landfall, the White House faces a political storm. The president pardoning controversial Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka is the latest to leave the administration.


LEMON: We just come back from our break. Here is our breaking news. All you have to do is look at the pictures and see what's going on in Corpus Christi, Texas. Unbelievable and again this storm is just making landfall. And it's just the beginning, it going to get stronger, the winds are going to pick up. It's moving slowly. It's going to cause intense damage to the Texas coast. There is Corpus Christi. We're following the breaking news there. This is all about Hurricane Harvey. Making landfall as we speak. Joining me now Colene Steven Metze, he is the public affairs officer for the Texas military department. Thank you, colonel. I know that you guys are busy. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. There are currently more than 1,000 guards men prepositioned around the state. Tell us what your team is doing right now.

STEVEN METZE, PUBLIC AFFAIRS, TEXAS MILITARY: Right now they're prepositioned. They started in Victoria, Bryan, and San Antonio. They're ready to go wherever we need to go to support state mobile agencies.

[23:45:00] LEMON: What have you seen so far, Colonel?

METZE: So far we've seen an a little bit of evacuation assistance and a little bit of request for positioning, mostly. So we're waiting for the worst of it to hit. And then we're expecting to see local and state agencies start putting in requests for search and rescue efforts, swift water rescue efforts, evacuation of personnel and transportation.

LEMON: All right. Have you already responded to any emergencies?

METZE: We haven't responded to any large-scale requests as yet. I don't have information if we've seen little ones of the front. I know we have service members positioned in the areas, and I know that they are synched up with first responders and partner agencies, so I would not be surprised if it started yet, but I don't have any specifics so far.

LEMON: So have you been doing this for a while? I've imagine you've seen a number of storms hit in Texas. So far, comparatively, this one?

METZE: We haven't seen a hurricane hit Texas since 2008, those were both category twos. We've seen hurricanes, tropical storms, flooding, so we've been training for this for a very long time, not one this intense, but we have done, in our agency operations, joint operation, inner-governmental operations, the department of safety, Texas division of emergency management, so we're trained for this type of activity. And we're ready for this type of activity. We prefer that we didn't have to use that training in a real tragedy, but when called, the men and women of the Texas military department are proud to be a part and serving Texans.

LEMON: Thank you Colonel Metze. I appreciate your time. Good luck.

METZE: Thank you.

LEMON: As Hurricane Harvey is making landfall on the Texas Coast, President Trump pardons controversial Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and Trump Adviser Sebastian Gorka is the latest to leave the administration. Here to discuss CNN Political Commentator David Swerdlick, Senior Media Correspondent Brian Stelter, National Security Analyst Juliette Kayyem, and Presidential Historian Douglas Brinkley. Hello to all of you. David I have to ask about this breaking news coming out of the White House. I'm sure you heard Representative King saying that he believes this decision by the president is one the base supports and that all Americans will be on board with this. What do you think of that?

DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I really don't, Don. And I think Congressman King kind of gave it away. You asked him if he agreed with the decision and asked if they should have done a news dump on a Friday night. He said he agreed with it but thought it would be a decision to announce on Monday or Tuesday. And that is a good point. If this is a just and right thing to do, if Sheriff Arpaio really is the martyr here, why didn't the White House announce this midweek, Monday, or before all this breaking news about the storm in Texas and in the gulf? The fact that they news dumped it suggested to me that they want to signal to their base. So most people, it gets caught up in the whole news cycle. If I could say one more thing about the Congressman King said he conflated a description with racial profiling.

LEMON: I tried to get him to explain that.

SWERDLICK: Let me explain it real quick. If police have a description of a guy wearing glasses and a beard and bow tie and they go looking for him, that is ok, that is a description. If the police officer doesn't have that description but sees someone driving by and looks like that and on that basis decides that is who I'm going to pull over because they look like an illegal immigrant, that is profiling and that is not ok. Once you strip away all of the legalese, it's not that complicated. LEMON: So let's talk, Brian Stelter, this is what you do.


LEMON: You're a senior correspondent. There's a reason they did a news dump on a Friday night, but not only that, but with a category four hurricane barreling off the coast of Texas.

STELTER: Seb Gorka has something to do with this. Gorka had written a resignation letter that criticizes Trump. So he writes his letter, he is force out of his job, this announcement is coming and what happens? We hear from the President that he is pardoned Joe Arpaio. There seems to be a connection between the two Friday nights stories, Seb Gorka leaving the White House is bad news story for Breitbart. Breitbart's leading with Seb Gorka resigning even though the White House says he is been forced out. What do we do? We roll out the Arpaio story. I wonder if that is the White House strategy, but forget about that for a moment. This hurricane is hurting and killing people right now along the coast of Texas. The White House is focusing, I don't want to say focused. They can do more than one thing. But why would the President want to divert even one moment of attention away from the flooding, away from the collapsed buildings in rock port, away from the emergency on the coast of Texas.

[23:50:37] LEMON: We saw it earlier in Phoenix, because it's all about him.

That is going to be sad when we see how bad it is on the text is coast.

STELTER: Is that the answer?

LEMON: Juliette? Do you disagree?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: No, I mean you heard me last hour, I -- I mean, we have to applaud the President, it takes a talent to move a category four hurricane barreling -- actually it's touched land now in Texas, which is as Brian said, it will kill people unfortunately and harm a lot of people, people are under distress and stress now just to give a visual image of it, if you are now hunkered down, emergency management officials have asked for you to put your social security number, to write it on your arm, that is because of fear that they will not be able to get to you in time, and they won't be able to identify you. I don't need to spell it out more clearly. That is what we're facing. The sheriff pardon -- is disgraceful for a lot of reasons. I find it such an insult for people we're talking about, people in public safety who every day do their jobs really successfully without violating the rule of law, and it also empowers that very small group of them who are harmful and damage communities of color and immigrant communities and, you know, target women.

It emboldens them to do what they ought not to do. And in the end, we're here on a Friday night talking about these specific issues, who's in with the President, who's not in, who did him a favor, who endorsed him early, and there is a category four hurricane hovering over Texas for the next couple days. I'm impressed with FEEMA and the homeland security adviser, but we have a President who seems disinterested in that, the most important part of his job, the safety of our nation.

STELTER: He did tweeted out he supported the national disaster -- I think we are right to be talking about Arpaio and Gorka and not just the hurricane because if the goal is to distract, somehow to use this hurricane, a natural disaster to get folks not to pay attention to these moves, that would be a bad --

LEMON: It's news. Cable news.

KAYYEM: I just want to say one thing.

LEMON: But I understand, but also, you got to -- if you are -- if you are the President of the United States and you're in the administration and you understand what damage a hurricane can cause to people's lives, to belongings, to whatever, then you would -- maybe you would wait until, as Steve King said, wait until a Monday or until you know what's happened there.

Go ahead.

KAYYEM: Brian, let me say one thing that is absolutely right. So then you have to think they knew we would be covering this. I guess I'm not the media analyst, but I don't think this is a news dump. I think the sheriff is very much what the President wanted us to be talking about, because it's a signal to people about what kind of law enforcement he wants, it's a signal about pardoning and his priorities s right now. I think he anticipated we were talking about it. I would definitely prefer to have a President who was only focused on the category four hurricane, but I believe he knew -- he knew -- I don't think -- I think he knows how we would react.

LEMON: Douglas maybe he can't stand not being the lead story.

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: I think he didn't want to be usurped by Hurricane Harvey. He has to be in the news cycle. I think this is a way for him to have taken a leadership goal. We have a category four storm slamming in Texas right now, instead he chose to do a news dump. I was in New Orleans for Katrina, I used to live in the Mississippi coast, places like that were just leveled. We're looking at rock port tonight as we're talking that are virtually going to be under water, and here President Trump playing all these different kinds of games with us yet again tonight.

[23:55:00] I think it was a missed opportunity for him to be, particularly with Joe Arpaio less than two weeks after Charlottesville, with people still very raw about what happened there, knowing what a lightning rod figure he was for Latinos, and he does this on the evening of a catastrophic storm. It's another low mark for I think President Trump's leadership skills.

LEMON: Stand by everyone, I have to get someone in. Thank you all. We'll try to get back to the panel in just moments. I need to speak with Democrats Congressman Ruben Gallego of Arizona, Congressman I'm so glad you would join us. You tweeted reaction to the first Presidential pardon saying by pardoning Joe Arpaio, Donald Trump has blessed Arpaio racist and unconstitutional police practices. Trump's pardon on Arpaio is unconscionable and unworthy of the White House. Wow. Explain that.

REP RUBEN GALLEGO, (D) ARIZONA: Well, couple reasons why. For those of us that are from (inaudible) county, we believe in the rule of law and justice. We believed pushing back was from the electoral box or suing him and working with the department of justice to bring him in control. At the end of the day, Joe Arpaio agreed to no longer racially profile Americans. Then he violated his agreement. And justice came along. And for us to see what just happen for Donald Trump to take away all the work these people put in, including me, I was involved in this for many years, without any thought, really only a thought of himself, it's sad. You know, the idea that the President skipped over the normal norms of the judicial proceeding when it comes to pardon, to pardon a political crony at the end of the day is anti- American, against the values of what we understand as justice under the law is disheartening. For someone who was openly racially profiling Americans says a lot about who Donald Trump is.

LEMON: What does it stay about his status of the self-proclaimed law and order President?

GALLEGO: Well, I mean, it's only law and order as long as it doesn't affect him, his family or friends. You know, let's not kid ourselves. This is probably more than anything else a setup for President Trump to actually start pardoning people in his campaign or his orbit or his family that were involved in collusion with the Russians. The fact that he skipped through the normal process again the department of justice goes through in pardoning people, I think is basically him lowering the bar when he starts issuing pardon or all his corrupt family members and their practices.

LEMON: Representative Ruben Gallego, thank you sir, I appreciate you joining us in CNN. There are lots of breaking news that is happening on this Friday night. When we come back, much more on all this breaking news, Hurricane Harvey makes landfall in the Texas coast, as President Trump pardons Sheriff Joe Arpaio and trump Adviser Sebastian Gorka leaves the White House.