And all as a Category 4 hurricane heads into Texas, too. If Friday night news dumps were a sport, the Trump White House would be a gold-medal favorite. First, they announced that Donald Trump had indeed issued a pardon to controversial Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who had been convicted of criminal contempt of court for disregarding a court order relating to the detention of suspected illegal immigrants:
President Donald Trump on Friday pardoned former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted of criminal contempt for ignoring a judge’s order not to detain suspected undocumented immigrants, the White House said.
Trump at a campaign-style rally in Phoenix strongly suggested he would pardon Arpaio, the former sheriff of Maricopa County. Arpaio had said he would appeal his conviction on misdemeanor contempt.
“Throughout his time as Sheriff, Arpaio continued his life’s work of protecting the public from the scourges of crime and illegal immigration,” the White House said in a statement.
“Sheriff Joe Arpaio is now eighty-five years old, and after more than fifty years of admirable service to our Nation, he is worthy candidate for a Presidential pardon,” the White House statement said.
This is somewhat curious, however. Trump could have issued the pardon on Tuesday evening at the rally. Why wait, rather than give the masses in Phoenix what they clearly craved? After the rally, other reporting suggested that the White House would require Arpaio’s case to go through the normal pardon process. Instead, Trump abruptly bypassed the Department of Justice and issued the pardon tonight:
DOJ had no role in Arpaio pardon per source with knowledge — this did not follow typical Office of Pardon Attorney process
— Laura Jarrett (@LauraAJarrett) August 26, 2017
In other words, this at least appears to have been a snap decision, at least on the timing. On Wednesday, Allahpundit wondered when — not if — Trump would pull the trigger. His second case: “Save it for a moment when he’s under fire from his base for having sided with the “globalists” on something and needs to be bailed out.” And … that brings us to Friday night dump #2:
Sebastian Gorka is resigning his post as Deputy Assistant to President Trump, multiple sources familiar with the situation have told The Federalist.
NPR later suggested that the departure was not voluntary, which sounds somewhat like the Anthony Scaramucci exit:
The official said Gorka did not resign, "but I can confirm he no longer works at the White House."
— NPR (@NPR) August 26, 2017
According to The Federalist, Gorka did not go quietly out the door either way:
In a blunt resignation letter, the national security and counterterrorism expert expressed dissatisfaction with the current state of the Trump administration. “[G]iven recent events, it is clear to me that forces that do not support the MAGA promise are – for now – ascendant within the White House,” Gorka wrote. “As a result, the best and most effective way I can support you, Mr. President, is from outside the People’s House.” …
“Regrettably, outside of yourself, the individuals who most embodied and represented the policies that will ‘Make America Great Again,’ have been internally countered, systematically removed, or undermined in recent months. This was made patently obvious as I read the text of your speech on Afghanistan this week…
“The fact that those who drafted and approved the speech removed any mention of Radical Islam or radical Islamic terrorism proves that a crucial element of your presidential campaign has been lost…
“Just as worrying, when discussing our future actions in the region, the speech listed operational objectives without ever defining the strategic victory conditions we are fighting for. This omission should seriously disturb any national security professional, and any American who is unsatisfied with the last 16 years of disastrous policy decisions which have led to thousands of Americans killed and trillions of taxpayer dollars spent in ways that have not brought security or victory.”
Whether or not Gorka resigned or got canned, these accusations would create the exact situation Allahpundit predicted. Steve Bannon’s termination, also somewhat mysteriously initiated, had already created accusations that Trump had been captured by the “globalists.” Gorka’s exit would no doubt have intensified those accusations. What better way to balance that out with a pardon that would play to the same base that would otherwise have been outraged?
If so, it might work — for the moment. Bannon was the bigger fish anyway, and Gorka had been presumed to be a short-timer since Bannon’s departure. However, Arpaio’s pardon is a one-off, whereas the foreign policy to which Gorka objected appears to be the direction Trump will take for a while, anyway. As long as Bannon and Gorka are free to make public cases against the “globalists” who have emerged victorious from the White House power struggle, Trump will be paying the price amongst his base.
How about Seb Gorka? No?
Update: The White House clearly also wants people to know that Gorka didn’t leave voluntarily:
Two sources close to Trump tell me Seb Gorka was fired, one insists he resigned.
Bottom line: forced out. https://t.co/Wkeps8oanf
— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) August 26, 2017
WH official tells me: "Sebastian Gorka did not resign, but I can confirm he no longer works at the White House." #ToddStarnesShow
— toddstarnes (@toddstarnes) August 26, 2017