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Flash Flood Emergency Issued for Houston, Texas; Trump White House; Arpaio Pardon Controversy; , It's Been About Two Weeks Since The Us President Warned That Military Action Could Be Used Against Venezuela And That's Already Creating Big Changes In The South American Country, The Season 7 Finale Of "Game Of Thrones" Airs Sunday Night. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired August 27, 2017 - 03:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[03:00:00]

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hurricane Harvey slams into Texas, leaving a trail of destruction and flash flooding in the city of Houston. The very latest from the hardest hit areas ahead.

Also new questions about a pardon granted by the U.S. president as Harvey made landfall. "The Washington Post" reporting the president initially tried to have the case dropped altogether.

Plus one of the most hyped fights in recent boxing history, it's over. Did you see the fight?

Floyd Mayweather continues to live up to his name.

Live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, welcome to our viewers around the world, I'm George Howell. CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.

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Around the world, good day to you, we are following breaking news out of the U.S. state of Texas. Tropical Storm Harvey is now being blamed for two deaths as torrential rains and flooding continues to hit that state.

In Houston, Texas, officials are warning of potentially catastrophic flooding. Up to 20 cms of rain has already fallen in the city. The storm could drop 10 more centimeters per hour in that area.

Police confirm that a woman was killed after being swept away by floodwaters there. A flash flood emergency is in effect for the Houston area and now you can see the devastating effect, the damage done in Rockport, Texas.

This is where Harvey struck as a category 4 hurricane. At least one person was killed in a house fire during the storm, bringing the total number of deaths to two. Strong winds brought down trees and power lines.

More than 300,000 people are now without power. More power outages are a major concern with the threat of tornadoes during the overnight hours. Take a look here. A funnel cloud was spotted a near Houston on Saturday.

The National Weather Service in the United States confirms a dozen tornadoes have impacted the Houston area since Friday. CNN affiliate KPRC has more now on the damage that has been done and the massive flooding.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are right on the I-45 feeder road at the Brentwood (ph) exit and this whole thing is completely shut down and it's getting worse by the minute. It's unbelievable how fast the water is accumulating.

We have a pickup truck down there. That guy is stuck. He is not going anywhere. I don't know what he'd going to do. He may wind up being the object of a rescue in the next few minutes or so.

We were down there about 200 yards farther down this road, had to turn and come back this way because our truck was about to be floated out of the area. We were in real danger.

Take a look at those barrels out there. When we got here, that's how fast the rain is falling. That barrel was fully visible. Now you can see the closest barrel to me is three-quarters under water. Now that is in the last 15 to 20 minutes. That is how fast the water is coming down. It is rising by inches as we talk here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You look right here behind me this, is one of the businesses that tornado hit. It looks like something went off from the inside. This is a Pizza Hut restaurant. And what happened is that that tornado apparently was moving this direction and went right down this line of businesses.

We'll move over here a little bit so you can get a wider shot of the row. It hit the Pizza Hut and then it hit the Wing Stop next to it and then it apparently skipped and went over to a KFC and hit that.

Now there were a lot of people inside these businesses when that happened. According to the fire department, about 25 people, customers and employees.

A couple guys we talked to who were in the Pizza Hut, a couple of the workers in there, said their first clue that something terribly wrong was happening was when a couple of customers came running to them at the counter there and then suddenly all of the glass, those glass doors that you can see are missing and the big windows, blew in at them. They all went and hid in the freezer.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: All right. Our thanks to the reporters at KPRC for insight into what is happening now.

Let us turn now to the live situation, a situation that has been hit very hard. Our meteorologist, Derek Van Dam, on the ground in Victoria, Texas, monitoring things there.

Derek, we see the winds picking up behind you.

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: George, if you think this is bad, I can only imagine what happening in Houston just to my east. We're hearing reports, we heard the report just a moment ago that we aired on CNN, unbelievable, unprecedented amount of rainfall, 500 mm, not even a typo, not cited incorrectly, 500 --

[03:05:00]

VAN DAM: -- millimeters in a three-hour period. And in 1.5 of those hours we saw 350 millimeters at Southeast Houston, that Interstate 45 corridor that the reporter was actually reporting from.

That is what we want to focus in on right now because now we are transitioning from what was a wind event to now a flash flood events across the southeastern coastal areas of Texas and Houston is really ground zero because that is what were seeing, these feeder bands coming in from the Gulf of Mexico, getting regenerated and pulling on a considerable amount of moisture and producing these epic, epic amounts of rainfall totals that we are experiencing there.

I want to set the scene where I am now, where I am now in Victoria. I am about 50 km inland from the Gulf of Mexico. And this particular area saw damage equivalent to that of a category 1 hurricane. Even though Harvey made landfall as a category 4 with winds in excess of 210 kph, you move inland, you see that dramatic decrease in the wind speeds because it loses its energy source, which of course is the ocean.

But there is still a considerable amount of damage. We did a full assessment of the city. We had trees completely toppled over. We have had awnings, roofs collapse. We have had some buildings, sides of buildings and walls also seeing some structural damage.

We've had power outages. Fortunately, we have seen utility companies moving from block to block to bring back some sort of normalcy to this town that was forced to evacuate.

This area is literally a ghost town right now because no one stayed. And that was good because, of course, we had a category 4 hurricane that was barreling down on this area.

All right, George that is all we have from Victoria but really we are thinking about the people in Houston at this hour because that story is going to be the major story going forward this morning because of the rescues, the swift water rescues that are happening there right now are ongoing. It is a major situation in America.

HOWELL: And Derek, with regard to Houston, what we know about officials simply being able to get out, to go about the process of making sure people are safe?

We see the storm, we're looking at the radar right now and you can tell that the strongest bands right over Houston right now, will this hamper officials, their ability to get out and make sure people are OK?

VAN DAM: There's only things you can do. If you did not choose to evacuate, you have to get to higher ground. Sometimes in flash flood emergencies, in fact, most of the time, that is why it is called a flash flood, you do not have the time to actually make those quick decisions.

So what you do?

You go to the top part of your house, you go to the top part of your building to seek shelter and sometimes that's going to be their only best case scenario that they have.

HOWELL: Derek Van Dam, that the beginning and end of it there, just to get a sense of what people are faced with. If they weren't able to evacuate, the storm still dumping a great deal of water in the Houston area. We will certainly continue to monitor that.

Derek, thank you.

Let's bring out our colleague, Karen Maginnis now, following the track of the storm.

And Derek laid it out pretty plain and clear, look if you're in this, you know, the path of the storm, you're in a problematic situation.

KAREN MAGINNIS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: We have seen it time and time again. This is a low-lying city. And the bayous are meant to carry the water away from the city. They can only do so much when you have rainfall rates that are 100 to 200 mm an hour and in some ways cases even more than that.

There are a lot of comparisons being made to this particular event. This event being what was category 4 Harvey but now as it has really weakened rather substantially of it's not over, it's very difficult to wrap your head around it.

But just figure this, here you can see some of these bands just kind of feeding in -- yes, they're coming up off the Gulf of Mexico, lots of deep tropical moisture here. And this has been nearly stationary.

Now it does appear as if some of the heavier precipitation is also sneaking its way over to Louisiana. So I daresay we'll see the potential for some pretty significant flooding there.

But in the meantime, in the short term and probably the long-term, South Houston, that was one of the areas where in six hours, 375 mm of rainfall. And where you see these red bands, that is where the heaviest is. We say that all the time. And we have got this one significant band just wrapped around the city. This other band is a little bit further to the south.

This is going to reinforced --

[03:10:00] MAGINNIS: -- the ground is already wet. The rainfall rates are going to pick up again and we're going to see just amazing rainfall totals, flash flood emergency. We've already had reports of at least 12 tornadoes reported. Some damage but we don't have any reports of fatalities.

Two fatalities already associated with Harvey but this is kind of the hi-res forecast radar. This is where we think that precipitation is going to be. It's just all situated around this basin, extending from Galveston to Waco to Austin to San Antonio.

San Antonio and Austin are about 2.5-3 hours away and the comparison has been made to Allison back in 2001. They had a 15-day rain event take place. So that is kind of the measurement that we're looking at with this particular system.

Here is some of the heavier rainfall totals that we have seen since the 25th of August so now we have seen in excess of three days. That corridor around Houston, the corridor around Interstate 10, Corpus Christi, when Harvey made landfall.

So, George, they're saying high water rescues right now. We are seeing lots of lightning. Cars have been stranded, lots of damage. People need the help. But right now they need to stay in place and stay safe.

HOWELL: All right, Karen. Thank you very much.

Harvey made landfall Friday night as a category 4 hurricane, where it hit the city of Rockport very hard. I want to show you some pictures now of some of the wreckage, some of the damage there in that city.

CNN's Martin Savidge has more on what happened.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is fairly typical where you have a major hurricane, just a debris field that is spread all over. And it is all over this town. But I want to show you something else here -- watch your footing because there's nails.

But take a look at this. This is not so typical. The entire front of this building sheared off completely. Now the interior has been knocked around a lot but much of it is still intact.

You rode it out last night here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I did. It was crazy. It was crazy. I went in; it was unbelievable. We first -- the wind came then we were -- went upstairs. We have a two-story home and just to peek out the window. because you really couldn't see much below -- I had everything boarded up, stuff. So I went to the upstairs window so I could reach them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the fence was waving when it first started. And then it gave way. About an hour later, we heard this big thump. Well, we have a very big chimney out of brick that had fell over on the roof and collapsed part of the roof there.

And then 45 minutes later, the garage had lifted up and slammed against the house.

SAVIDGE: Rockport is right on the water. That's part of the reason it got so hit so hard. It's a very tourist town. You can see the marina did not fare well at all. There are what looks like dozens if not maybe over 100 boats here. Looks like many of them suffered varying forms of damage, from light all the way down to a total write- off.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: Martin Savidge, thank you.

If you want to help those affected by the storm, be sure to visit our website cnn.com/impact.

Now moving onto U.S. politics, a day after the U.S. president pardoned former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio we're now learning that the president had a personal interest in this case before it even went to trial, this according to "The Washington Post."

President Trump reportedly asked the U.S. attorney general Jeff sessions about dropping the case but Sessions told Trump that it would be inappropriate to interfere. Arpaio was eventually convicted of criminal contempt for ignoring a court order to stop racially profiling.

On Friday Arpaio received a full presidential pardon. A White House official told "The Post," quote, We knew that the president wanted to do this for some time now and had worked to prepare for whenever the moment may come."

And White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said this about the presidents inquiry to the attorney general, quote, "It is only natural the president would have would have a discussion with administration lawyers about legal matters. This case would be no different."

The paper says the Justice Department declined to comment. Arpaio's pardon was just one of several major developments from the administration this weekend. We get more now from CNN's Athena Jones.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there. Several big headlines coming out of the White House just in the last couple of days. Among them, the departure of White House aide Sebastian Gorka. He had served as a counterterrorism adviser to the president and he was dismissed on Friday.

Now he says he resigned. White House officials say otherwise. And Gorka now joins a list of White House aides who have left just in the last month or so.

[03:15:00]

JONES: We're talking about press secretary Sean Spicer, chief of staff Reince Priebus, chief strategist Steve Bannon, now Sebastian Gorka joining that list.

I should note that, after departure of Bannon earlier this month, sources said that Gorka, too, was on thin ice. Gorka was part of the nationalist-populist wing of the West Wing led by Steve Bannon and so it is perhaps not too surprising to see him now out of the White House.

But perhaps the biggest, most controversial news coming out of the White House in the last couple of days is the president's decision to pardon former Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona.

Now let's remind our viewers what Sheriff Arpaio was convicted of. He was convicted of contempt for ignoring a court order to stop racial profiling. He and his department had been stopping Latinos just on the suspicion that they might be undocumented.

Sheriff Arpaio was ordered to stop doing that. He continued to do so for more than a year longer and was convicted just at the end of July. He was set to be sentenced in October and could have faced up to six months in prison.

But the president has stepped in to pardon him and now "The Washington Post" is reporting that, even before Arpaio's trial began last spring, the president spoke with his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, to ask whether it was possible for the government to drop the case against Arpaio.

The president was advised that would be inappropriate and so he let the case go to trial.

But it seems clear now that the president, at least according to this report, had been thinking about pardoning his ally, Sheriff Arpaio, for some time. Here is how Arpaio responded to that news.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE ARPAIO, FORMER ARIZONA SHERIFF: I know it came from his heart. Two years ago I supported him first rally and I always said regardless of pardon or no pardon, I'd be with him to the end.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JONES: So there you heard a grateful Sheriff Arpaio. But the president's decision has received criticism, not just from Democrats but also from members of his own party, including Arizona's two Republican senators and Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, all raising questions about this move by the president, that could potentially send a message to Trump allies that it's OK to violate citizens' constitutional rights and to ignore court orders, if you are a Trump ally -- back to you.

(END VIDEOTAPE) HOWELL: Athena Jones, thank you.

Arpaio's attorney says the presidential pardon simply undid a wrongful conviction that would otherwise have taken much longer to overturn. Here is what he told CNN's Ana Cabrera.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JACK WILENCHIK (PH), ATTORNEY FOR JOE ARPAIO: (INAUDIBLE) jury has faced. We should have had one from day one. At this point, the appeal, the fact that the sheriff is an old man, (INAUDIBLE), he is 85 years old.

This would just be a lot more money and wasted time all around. So I would rather see this go to a jury in the first place, get the right verdict. But at this point we're dealing with a wrongful verdict.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: Joining me now to talk more about this controversial pardon is Larry Sabato. Larry is the director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia.

Larry, always a pleasure to have you here with us on the show.

So let us talk about what we heard from the Speaker of the House. Paul Ryan has indicated that he does not agree with this pardon of Joe Arpaio.

What does that indicate as it goes with this rift between the Republican Party, a rift between the president and establishment Republicans?

LARRY SABATO, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: I think we can expect some nasty tweets from the President Trump mentioning Speaker Ryan by name. That certainly is his M.O. and he has done it with Mitch McConnell recently.

So why not hit the leaders of both houses, even though they're Republican?

But I think it is significant that Paul Ryan did this. He is setting a marker, drawing a line, however you want to put and he is making it clear that this was a very controversial move and even within the Republican Party.

It is not necessarily popular.

HOWELL: There is also some new reporting from "The Washington Post," indicating that the president had reached out to the nation's top attorney, Jeff Sessions, to ask him to drop the case against Joe Arpaio.

But Mr. Sessions, saying that it would be inappropriate to do so. So the president just waited, waited for this case to play out, waited for the verdict to then make his move. Talk to us about that process and if there is any impropriety in that.

SABATO: Well, I think there was impropriety in even asking the attorney general about somehow dropping the case. That would have been an extraordinary invention by the attorney general, who has been very close to President Trump, at least until he became attorney general. So it was a good thing that the --

[03:20:00]

SABATO: -- the attorney general said what he did and Sessions was correct. Now the way that Trump went about this part was very unconventional. It did not go through the Justice Department procedures at all.

There was no independent research done outside the White House. And who knows how much was done within the White House. I doubt very much.

And I think most important of all is the fact that Arpaio was given a full pardon without admitting any guilt or expressing remorse for his crimes and they were crimes as found by our judicial system.

There is really no question about it. Normally, someone who receives a pardon like this, at least puts on a face of remorse for a day or two. Arpaio did nothing of the sort. This was great for President Trump's base but it really does bring into question the justice system and whether people see equal justice under law.

HOWELL: Larry, cannot help but talk about the timing of this particular pardon, it came late day Friday at the time of a category 4 hurricane that was bearing down on the state of Texas.

What you make of the timing?

SABATO: George, I'm sure it was purely coincidental. I am kidding of course. It was obviously timed for that. For many years, presidents and administrations generally have put out bad news late on a Friday afternoon or a Friday evening, particularly of a holiday weekend or when something else big was going on.

This fits the pattern; of course, it was more than Arpaio. It was the transgender military decision. It was the resignation of Sebastian Gorka. Who knows what else will come out over the weekend while we are still assessing the damage from Hurricane Harvey.

HOWELL: Larry Sabato, we always appreciate your insight. Thanks for being with us today.

SABATO: Thanks so much.

HOWELL: One of the questions that what are the legal ramifications of Mr. Trump's reportedly asking Sessions to drop the case against Arpaio, let's ask a leading constitutional attorney that question in about 20 minutes here on the show.

Still ahead the latest on new North Korean missile launches. Our Will Ripley has an exclusive report from Pyongyang.

Plus: one of the most hyped boxing matches ever, it is finally over. How UFC champion, Conor McGregor, surpasses some of his critics in his bout against Floyd Mayweather, won that fight.

And the Houston area is bracing for devastating floods as Tropical Storm Harvey continues to deliver a deluge of rain. More on that storm as NEWSROOM continues.

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(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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HOWELL: Tough talk from the United States does not appear to be stopping North Korea. Pyongyang fired three more missiles on Saturday as the U.S. and South Korea are in the second week of war games. Initial reports said all three missiles failed but the U.S. later said --

[03:25:00]

HOWELL: -- two went about 250 kilometers. The launches came just days after the U.S. secretary of state Rex Tillerson said North Korea had shown some restraint. He noted it hadn't engaged in any provocative acts since a U.N. resolution calling for more sanctions. The U.S. and Pyongyang have been trading threats for weeks due to its missile program.

Our Will Ripley is the only Western journalist inside North Korea and he filed this exclusive report about rising tensions.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: On the surface, it is a quiet Sunday here in Pyongyang. But just beneath the surface, it's described to me as an extraordinarily tense time, some of the highest levels of tension seen here in years.

And all starting several weeks ago with the exchange of fiery rhetoric between the United States and North Korea.

Remember when President Trump threatened to rain down "fire and fury" on this country and North Korea responded by detailing a plan to launch missiles and have them fly over Japan, come down dangerously close to the island of Guam, home to key U.S. military assets and more than 160,000 American citizens.

We haven't seen that kind of military escalation on the peninsula and, in fact, it has only been rhetoric for the last several weeks, until North Korea simultaneously launched three short-range ballistic missiles with two of them traveling around 250 kilometers; that's more than 150 miles, landing in the waters off of Japan.

That short range would still put within striking distance U.S. military bases in South Korea and all of metropolitan Seoul, theoretically. But these are just tests.

And just like the special forces operation, another military exercise that happened here in North Korea, with their Supreme Leader, Kim Jong-un, overseeing the whole thing.

No coincidence that North Korea is demonstrating its military force as the U.S. and South Korea prepare to enter week two of their regularly scheduled joint military exercises. They always infuriate the regime here in North Korea.

And, in fact, it's extraordinary that we are even being allowed to report from inside the country at this very tense time. It's never happened before.

Again, the North Koreans saying, while all is quiet on the surface, just beneath, simmering tensions that could potentially boil over if there is any misstep on either side -- Will Ripley, CNN, Pyongyang, North Korea.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: And for more on life inside North Korea and more of Will's reporting, you can follow his Twitter page @WillRipleyCNN and on Instagram, where he posts frequently from inside Pyongyang.

One of the most hyped fights in recent boxing history is finally over. This was the scene in Las Vegas, Nevada. Floyd Mayweather beat Conor McGregor by a technical knockout in the 10th round. The American is now the first boxer to reach 50 professional wins undefeated.

Ireland's McGregor was the clear underdog in this fight but came out strong in the first few rounds. Our Don Riddell reports he did much better than expected.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DON RIDDELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it wasn't a circus, it wasn't a farce, it was a proper fight. And it was a lot more entertaining than many people thought it was going to be.

The headline is that the American, Floyd Mayweather, beat Ireland's Conor McGregor with a technical knockout in the 10th round.

After such an extraordinary on buildup and hype that had gone through the roof, the fear was that this fight was going to fall flat on its face, that the UFC star, McGregor, who was making his professional boxing debut, simply wouldn't be able to compete in any kind of meaningful way. But that was not the case at all.

The Irishman came out strong, edging the early rounds, fighting in an unusual style, hitting Mayweather from angles that the far more experienced boxer wasn't expecting.

But in the end, McGregor burned himself out. Mayweather said his tactic was to see what McGregor could bring to the table, bide his time. And after 25 minutes or so up his game. And at that point, Mayweather had the Irishman worked out and, in the

end, the fight lasted 28 minutes, with the ref stepping in to spare McGregor further punishment.

It remains to be seen what is next for the 29-year-old Irishman. He remain a champion in UFC. He has said tonight that he doesn't think he will box again.

What next for Mayweather?

Well, remember he came out of retirement to fight tonight. He has now said he is retired for good, having reached the magical number of 50 professional fights, 50 wins, zero defeats. That is a new record and he will go into the Hall of Fame as one of the all-time greats.

It has been a fun week here in Las Vegas. It was a fantastic fight, all things considered. And I think both the sports of boxing and UFC will leave this arena with their respective heads held high -- Don Riddell, CNN, Las Vegas.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: Don, thank you.

Still ahead, the controversial pardon of a former sheriff, Joe Arpaio may have been in the works even before Arpaio went to trial.

What does the U.S. Constitution say about that?

A legal expert will join us -- ahead.

Plus dire -

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HOWELL: Welcome back to our viewers around the world, you're watching "CNN Newsroom," it's good to is having with us. I'm George Howell with the headlines we're following for you this hour. Tropical Storm Harvey - it is soaking the south part of the Texas Coast after slamming into that state Friday as a Category 4 hurricane. One person was killed in the town of Rockport, Texas. Another person was killed in Houston, Texas after she was swept away by floodwaters. A flash flood emergency has been issued for the city.

In Iraq security forces have retaken most of the city of Tal Afar from ISIS. The military says it now controls 90% of the city center. ISIS holds only a small area in the north. Tal Afar is one of the terror group's last remaining strongholds in Iraq.

The US President reportedly asked his Attorney General about dropping the case against the former sheriff Joe Arpaio, but according to the "Washington Post," Donald Trump was told interference would be inappropriate. Arpaio was pardoned Friday after his criminal contempt conviction for ignoring a court order to stop racially profiling Latinos in the US state of Arizona. Joining us to talk more about this is CNN legal analyst and criminal

defense attorney, Page Pate. Page, it's a pleasure to have you with us. Let's start by explaining to our viewers the power of the pardon because regardless of how controversial a pardon may be, the President has absolute authority to use it.

PAGE PATE, LEGAL ANALYST, CNN: That's right, George. The Constitution gives our President the power to pardon anyone he wants to do with the possible exception of himself and that's been an argument legal scholars have had recently if the President can actually pardon himself, but aside from that issue, there's no question that the President can pardon anyone before conviction, before sentencing or even after a conviction and that's what he decided to do in this case. After a conviction, but before sentencing.

HOWELL: Okay, but here's the question - can the power of the pardon ever go too far especially for a President who has got a great division of those who support what he's doing and then those who don't?

PATE: Absolutely. Now, a court can never review the pardon, now a judge can't step in and say, "Well, the President went too far with this one," or "It was not an appropriate case for a pardon." But Congress can. Congress still has impeachment power, so if Congress decided that the President abused his constitutional authority, he pardons someone for personal interest or for political interest that really didn't mesh with the constitutional grant of the pardon power, they could pursue impeachment. So, that is the one check on a President's pardon power.

HOWELL: Okay, so there is this new "Washington Post" reporting that says President Trump actually reached out to the top attorney, Attorney General Jeff Sessions to ask him to drop the case against Joe Arpaio. Mr. Sessions saying that would be inappropriate to do so, so the President waited for the court case to play out, waited for the verdict and then issued this pardon.

Remember back, there was the situation for the fired FBI Director Jim Comey who said President Trump pressured him to drop the case against the former NSA director Michael Flynn, so this pattern of behavior. What does say to you?

PATE: I think it is significant in the Special Counsel's investigation relating to the interaction with Jim Comey because it does show a pattern. It shows that this particular President wants to intercede, wants to put himself into the Justice Department machinery when it comes to law enforcement decisions, prosecutorial decisions and while he has the power to do that. He is Chief Executive. He controls the executive branch, it's highly inappropriate, it's not something that we see Presidents do. There are internal Justice Department policies that are supposed to prohibit that type of conduct, but it's still legal. It's still constitutional.

So, while I think it's unusual and I think it may show a pattern of conduct that could be relevant to this separate investigation, the President is not going to get in trouble for talking to Sessions about this pardon.

HOWELL: So, look, there are multiple investigations going on. I just mentioned Michael Flynn. There are questions about his conduct. What does it say to people who may be facing legal issues, but through their relationship with the President, may feel now given this pardon, that the President has their back.

PATE: Yes, support the President contribute to the President's campaign. I think it sends a really bad message, a disturbing the message, a message that this particular White House, this particular President is more concerned about politics than the rule of law, and if you're on the right side of his agenda, you may get a pass where others wouldn't.

HOWELL: Page Pate, we appreciate your time and insight today. Thank you.

PATE: Thank you, George.

HOWELL: Now, as we mentioned, former sheriff Joe Arpaio was convicted of violating a judge's order to stop racially profiling Latino drivers. One of the key witnesses to testify against Arpaio has reacted to the Presidential pardon. In a new op-ed in the "Washington Post," Dan Magos described being pulled over along with his late wife, by one of Arpaio's deputies. I'll read part of it here to give you a sense of what he says he experienced on that day.

[03:35:20]

"Standing there in the street, he patted me down. My underarms, my torso, my legs even my groin. My wife was watching the whole time. That was the most humiliating part. I couldn't defend myself or her. When the search was finished, I asked the deputy for a third time why he pulled us over? He said it was because he hadn't been able to see the license plate on my truck and then finally, he let us go with this warning, 'Don't think for a minute that this has anything to do with racial profiling.'"

Magos spoke with my colleague, Brooke Baldwin about his disappointment over Arpaio's pardon. Listen.

(START VIDEO CLIP)

DAN MAGOS, VICTIM OF LATINO PROFILING: I was furious when I heard the announcement that Arpaio had been pardoned and I was also sad, disappointment - disappointed that the Presidency was getting involved in a case in Maricopa County and it was quite disappointing especially since I had been fighting this case going to court, to every session - court session for the last seven and a half years. After all this effort of years, now President Trump comes in just with a stroke of a pen, erases everything and walks all over my efforts and that of the Hispanic community in Maricopa County.

And all of those people that stand behind the Constitution and defend the Constitution, some even with their lives and apparently, the Constitution does not mean anything to either Arpaio or Trump. (VIDEO CLIP ENDS)

HOWELL: Dan Magos there speaking about his experience with my colleague Brooke Baldwin. In the meantime, President Trump is monitoring the aftermath of the Tropical Storm Harvey and is said to be eager to visit the State of Texas as soon as possible. On Saturday, he tweeted this, "Wonderful coordination between Federal, state and local governments in the great state of Texas. Teamwork! Record-setting rainfall." Mr. Trump also tweeted a thank you to the volunteers there.

Houston is now bracing for what could be catastrophic flooding. Again, one person has already been killed in the floodwaters. The city's mayor urging residents there to stay at home and to stay off the roads.

(START VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We said just a few ago that this was going to be a very serious storm and we said the storm was going to last four or five days and that is exactly correct. It's a serious storm. It's going to last four or five days and quite frankly, this is Day 1. And he streets are treacherous It makes absolutely no sense for anyone to be out on the road, unless there's an emergency.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: A flash flood emergency is in effect for Houston, Texas; 10 to 20 centimeters of rain has already fallen and much more is expected in the coming days. Our Rosa Flores has the latest for us.

(START VIDEO TAPE)

ROSA FLORES, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: The biggest concern in the City of Houston is flooding. City officials here have told people for days that they need to have food and water for four to five day because waters here can rise very quickly. This is called the Bayou City. There are bayous, waterways that meander through downtown, that meander through neighborhoods, and the ground is already saturated with water because it's been raining for the past few days.

And take a look around me, you can see there's more rain, lightning, thunder, that is what has city officials and first responders very worried because I doesn't take much rain for these bayous and creeks to swell even more because the ground is so saturated.

Right now, city officials say that they are expecting between 15 and 30 inches of rain in the Harris County, Houston area and in isolated areas, up to 35 inches of rain that could be catastrophic because these waters can rise very, very quickly, so they are advising residents to stay put. There is no evacuation order in the City of Houston.

[03:40:07]

FLORES: But they are asking residents to be very vigilant if the waters rise too quickly, they are asking people to call for help.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

HOWELL: Rosa Flores, thank you for the report there in Houston. Still ahead, as Hurricane Harvey cause problems throughout the Texas coastline, some major oil and gas refineries had to shut down and that's already disrupting the global industry. Plus, we'll show you how Venezuelans are making changes here, all because of a threat from the US President.

It's been about two weeks since the US President warned that military action could be used against Venezuela and that's already creating big changes in the South American country. The nation's President, Nicolas Maduro ordered these nationwide drills vowing that "Venezuela will not be threatened." Our Patrick Oppmann has the story.

(START VIDEO TAPE)

PATRICK OPPMANN, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Venezuela's government says it's preparing for war. This weekend, the South American nation is holding massive military exercises, a show of force from embattled President Nicolas Maduro.

I've given the order to the head of the Armed Forces, he says, to begin preparations for a national civic exercise of armed integral defense of the Venezuelan homeland. When oil prices were an all-time high, Venezuela could afford the latest military hardware.

But countrywide exercises come as Venezuela's economy hits rock bottom. Food scarcities have provoked violent street protests. Critics say Maduro's plan to rewrite the Venezuelan Constitution is an illegal power grab that is moving the country towards dictatorship. Even some Maduro opponents say Donald Trump went too far in August when he threatened military action.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE United States: We have many options for Venezuela, including a possible military option if necessary.

OPPMANN: Venezuela's government which has long blamed the US for the economic problems that plagued the socialist corruption ridden country jumped on the comments accusing the US of preparing to invade. Even some allies in the region criticized Trump's comments.

During the tour of Latin America just a few days later, Vice President Mike Pence tried to dial back the rhetoric.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We truly believe that by increasing economic and diplomatic pressure on the Maduro regime, not just across the Americas, but across the wider world that we can achieve a restoration of democracy in Venezuela by peaceable means.

OPPMANN: But the Maduro government is capitalizing on the war talk saying internal opponents are aligned with the "imperialist threat" and now showing off the country's military might in a demonstration that cash-strapped Venezuela cannot afford. Patrick Oppmann, CNN, Havana.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

HOWELL: On to Spain now, the nation shared a message of hope and solidarity after the devastating terror attacks that hit Barcelona. Almost half a million people came together to march for peace on Saturday, many people there chanting, "I am not afraid." Later they cheered for the police and for the medical workers who helped during the emergency. Spain's King Philippe and Prime Minister also joined the crowd.

The damage from Hurricane Harvey is expected to create some major problems for the oil and gas industry. The region where the storm has hit is crucial to production and the hurricane has already expected to hike prices. Our Alison Kosik explains.

(START VIDEO TAPE)

ALISON KOSIK, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Hurricane Harvey has hit a region of the country that is immensely important to the production of oil and gas in the US. Almost 30% of all the refining that's done in the US is done right in the path of Harvey.

So as we've seen the storm make its way through, we've also seen oil platforms and oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico shut down. That is where the oil is pulled up out of ground. We've seen refineries dotted across the Gulf, we've seen those refineries taken offline, and it's at those refineries that that oil is made into gasoline. And because those refineries are taken offline, there is now a supply disruption in gas. So that means we're seeing prices move a little higher, at least that's what analysts are telling me to expect.

Expect to see gas prices go up anywhere from $0.05 to $0.25 a gallon beginning this weekend and into next week, but analysts do expect those prices to come back down after next week. However, there is one caveat: if there is permanent or more destructive damage done to the refineries or to the rigs, we could see those higher gas prices last a little longer.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

HOWELL: Alison Kosik, thank you. When the eye wall of Harvey hit the coast of Texas on Friday night, the images were truly remarkable. I want to show you some of the dramatic moments as the storm made landfall.

(START VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're being hit by a pretty significant band from Harvey as it is making landfall here, about 50 miles, as you mentioned, south of where we are, we are here in Port Lavaca.

There is Lavaca Bay just in front of me here. And that storm surge from Harvey is pushing water from the bay this way. That rain is coming through and it is stinging as the wind is blowing it sideways right now. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Storm surge has been a big issue further up the

Texas coast, but here in Corpus, we've been dealing mainly with this strong wind and it's been going for about three or four hours now.

This is a slow moving storm, which mean that these winds are going to stay strong at least for a little while longer, and so there's going to be issues here in Corpus for a while longer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These are about some of the worst conditions I have ever been in during this type of a hurricane here. Look at that wind right there. Not only is the water parting, the wind is whipping it into a froth.

There is no power anywhere in the city of Rockport. We're starting to see trees go down everywhere; we're starting to see a lot of debris. In fact, when we were sitting out live in our truck earlier, trying to get our story together, at one point, we thought the truck was going to tip over. And that's with two full grown men sitting inside.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some people are getting kicked out of this hotel. The owner's a little nervous because half of the building is apparently missing. We are just taking our first look at it. This is only from the front half of the hurricane. This is incredible. This is kind of our first look guys at the first half of Hurricane Harvey's damage in the parking lot. The eye is here. A second ago, these were 140 to 150 mile an hour gust, now it's a beautiful evening.

[03:45:14]

HOWELL: The Season Seven Finale of "Game of Thrones" airs Sunday night. The episode titled, "The Dragon and the Wolf" is expected to shatter viewership records for HBO as millions of fans hope to get that long-awaited answer. After seven seasons, "Game of Thrones" has rewritten the rules of TV drama with its multimillion dollar budget. Its creators built a world centered on power, on violence and on dragons. Our Clare Sebastian shows us how the magic is actually created.

(START VIDEO TAPE)

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: In the fantasy world of "Game of Thrones," fire-breathing dragons are the ultimate weapon of war. Behind the scenes, it took an army to create them and the world they inhabit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We had a meeting with HBO and they were talking about how the - how important the dragons will be for the coming seasons and how much the character personality will be a major part of the of the story.

SEBASTIAN: Pixomondo joins "Game of Thrones" in Season 2, one of 27 visual effects companies the show has hired to date. Their job, to create dragons that were coming of age.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If this animal is getting bigger, then the balance, the muscle structure, the way it actually lifts up in the area is changing and is becoming more complicated than if you have something tiny that needs to hop a few feet and this was an incredibly challenging thing to develop.

SEBASTIAN: To do so, he says, the artists had to take something familiar.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They went to a supermarket and dissected a chicken to learn how the muscle structure should be.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know when the dragon comes in and they like shoot - and the ice starts to like break up.

SEBASTIAN: It's work like this which has made "Game of Thrones," a master class for the next generation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to work on characters, so just seeing dragons and their little babies trying to shoot tiny bits of fire to what they are now, just these huge beasts, it resonates well with everyone, I think.

SEBASTIAN: For these final year, visual art students, it was part of the inspiration for their thesis film. You learned some things from watching "Game of Thrones?"

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I think so. Definitely that not everything has to be CG, so like the wolves, they were real wolves that are like green screened in. That wasn't CG and to me that was really eye opening in a way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the original intent was to write a story that was so that grand that it was completely unbound by the constraints of regular production and visual effects has made a show like "Game of Thrones" possible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Visual effects is not the driving force of the show. I think it's the drama that is built around people's relationships. It's not trying to be a fantasy story. This could be true. This could be a real thing and I think that's what makes the magic of it.

SEBASTIAN: A magic that has taken TV drama in an epic scale. Clare Sebastian, CNNMoney, New York.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

HOWELL: Clare, thank you and thank you for being with us. Our coverage continues on Tropical Storm Harvey with my colleagues Natalie Allen and Cyril Vanier. Stay with us.

[03:50:00]