- Adrees Latif/Reuters
As Hurricane Harvey headed for the coast of Texas Friday night, a storm of news was also breaking.
Within a period of a few hours, President Donald Trump pardoned controversial former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio and directed the Pentagon to place an indefinite ban on transgender individuals joining the military.
Meanwhile, White House adviser Sebastian Gorka was ousted, and it was revealed that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating whether Michael Flynn was involved in an effort to obtain Hilary Clinton’s deleted emails.
Plus, North Korea launched projectiles into its eastern sea.
You’d certainly be forgiven for missing some of last night’s news. Here’s what to know:
Trump pardoned former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
On Friday night, Trump granted a presidential pardon to the controversial former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was accused of encouraging racial profiling of Latinos in Arizona.
Arpaio lost a re-election bid last year. A lawsuit alleged that his office was racially profiling Latino people and detaining them only on suspicion that they were in the country illegally. In 2011, a judge ordered Arpaio to stop the practice but the sheriff refused, insisting the procedures were legal.
He was convicted last month of criminal contempt of court for violating the terms of the order.
The pardon was issued as Hurricane Harvey, at the time a Category 4 storm, was barreling toward the Texas coast. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer accused Trump of “using the cover of the storm” to issue the divisive pardon.
Senator Chris Murphy called the move, “basically a big middle finger to America.”
Kelli Ward, Jeff Flake’s primary challenger in Arizona, applauded the pardon.
Sebastian Gorka is out at the White House.
- Alex Wong/Getty Images
A Trump administration official confirmed on Friday night that adviser Sebastian Gorka, a former Breitbart staffer and ally of ousted advisor Steve Bannon, no longer works at the White House.
Earlier reports suggested that Gorka resigned, but a White House official said in a statement obtained by Business Insider that wasn’t what happened. Gorka touted himself as a national security adviser to the president, according to the New York Times, but was not on the National Security Council.
His departure came a week after Bannon left the administration to return to Breitbart, and followed a spate of firings and resignations at the White House.
In his departing letter, published on pro-Trump website The Federalist, Gorka told Trump he could better serve the president’s agenda from the outside.
Trump directed the Pentagon to ban transgender individuals joining the military indefinitely.
- Reuters/Mohammed Al-Ramahi
Following up on his Twitter announcement that transgender individuals would no longer be allowed to serve in the military, Trump issued a directive to the Pentagon to ban transgender individuals from joining the military indefinitely.
The possibility that transgender service members who are already in uniform could stay in the military seems to remain open, however.
In June 2016, the Obama administration declared that transgender soldiers in the US forces could serve openly. The deadline for determining whether transgender people would be allowed to join the military was set for July 2017. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis delayed that too January 1, 2018, and Trump’s new instruction essentially extends that delay indefinitely.
In his initial tweets in July, Trump suggested that transgender people serving in the military would cause “tremendous medical costs and disruption.”
However, an analysis by the RAND Corporation found that the financial costs of allowing transgender people to serve would be very low, considering the military’s overall healthcare costs.
North Korea fired several short-range projectiles into the sea.
- KCNA via Reuters
Early Saturday morning, North Korea fired several short-range projectiles into the sea. South Korea’s military reported that the projectiles came from North Korea’s eastern Kangwon province, according to Reuters.
The launch was North Korea’s first since it test-fired a ballistic missile on July 28 that could have a range that would put parts of the U.S. mainland within reach. North Korea had previously demonstrated the long range of its missiles in a July 4 test of its Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile.
The new launch occurred as tensions between North Korea and the United States appeared to be easing. Earlier this month, President Trump promised “fire and fury” in response to North Korea’s threats, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said he might fire missiles into the sea near Guam.
Robert Mueller’s team is looking into whether Michael Flynn took part in an effort to get Hillary Clinton’s emails.
- Thomson Reuters
Special counsel Mueller’s investigators are looking into the possibility that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn played a role in efforts to obtain emails deleted from Hillary Clinton’s private server, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.
The 2016 effort to get the emails from Russian hackers was spearheaded by GOP donor and opposition researcher Peter Smith. In May, Smith told the Journal that his search for the emails put him in contact with several groups of hackers – two of which may have included Russian operatives. Smith killed himself days after giving that interview.
As part of the Mueller’s investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russians during the 2016 election, his team wants to find out whether Flynn and his son were involved in Smith’s efforts.
Flynn’s time at the White House lasted just 24 days.
Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas with winds as high as 130 mph.
- Thomson Reuters
Of course, the scariest story of the night was Hurricane Harvey, which made landfall between Port Aransas and Port O’Connor in Texas just before 10 p.m.
The storm has since been downgraded to Category 1, but is expected to stay over Texas for several more days. Harvey continues to move inland, causing destruction and dumping enormous quantities of rain in a wide swath of the state. Expected rainfall is between 15 and 30 inches in many places, with few spots seeing up to 40 inches.
Don’t let the lower categorization fool you – wind speeds may have lessened, but the National Hurricane Center is warning that flooding will be “catastrophic and life-threatening.”