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Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

It was an end-of-summer Friday night and President Trump, ensconced at Camp David, wanted to show the establishment who's boss.

In any other time, we'd have had saturation coverage of a once-in-a-decade hurricane aimed at the nation's petrochemical heart. And a rookie president facing the prospect of his first domestic calamity would have been fretting and sweating his understaffed government's response.

Not Trump! Instead, he melted the news circuits — forcing the cable newsers to go with boxes in boxes in boxes. The Friday night news dump:

  • Trump issues his first pardon, sparing Joe Arpaio of Arizona — who called himself "America's Toughest Sheriff," and was known for hunting immigrants and humiliating convicts — from posssible jail time for a federal conviction stemming from immigration patrols that focused on Latinos.
  • Seb Gorka, a bombastic White House aide known only to cable-news viewers, posted a blistering departure letter. In a very unusual move, the White House blasted an email to reporters making it clear the Bannon protégé had been forced out: "Attribute to a White House Official: Sebastian Gorka did not resign, but I can confirm he no longer works at the White House."
  • Trump formalized his "ban on transgender individuals joining the military but gave the Pentagon the authority to decide the future of openly transgender people already serving."
  • Oh, and BTW, North Korea fired three short-range missiles. (They crashed.)
  • Oh, and NBC reported: "Mueller issued grand jury subpoenas ... seeking testimony from public relations executives [from firms including Podesta Group and Mercury LLC] who worked on an international campaign organized by Paul Manafort."

Bob Bauer, a New York University law professor who was White House counsel to President Obama, tells me: "There is nothing usual about this ... pardon — issued weeks after the court order and before any appeal or sentencing; previewed at a political rally."

Why it matters: The aggressive Arpaio pardon — so early in a presidency, and without the usual Justice Department protocols — raises the possibility that Trump was sending a message to targets and witnesses in the Mueller probe.

  • Republican commentator Ana Navarro said on CNN that this was Trump reminding: "I have absolute power to pardon and I have no qualms ... come hell or high water."
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Go deeper

Cuomo faces fresh misconduct allegations from former aides

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo during a February press conference in New York City. Photo: Seth Wenig/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

The office of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) was on Saturday facing fresh accusations of misconduct against his staff, including further allegations of inappropriate behavior against two more women. His office denies the claims.

Driving the news: The Washington Post reported Cuomo allegedly embraced an aide when he led the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and that two male staffers who worked for him in the governor's office accused him of routinely berating them "with explicit language."

In photos: Protesters rally for George Floyd ahead of Derek Chauvin's trial

Chaz Neal, a Redwing community activist, outside the Minnesota Governor's residence during a protest in support of George Floyd in St.Paul, Minnesota, on March 6. Photo: Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images

Dozens of protesters were rallying outside the Minnesota governor's mansion in St Paul Saturday, urging justice for George Floyd ahead of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin's trial over the 46-year-old's death.

The big picture: Chauvin faces charges for second-degree murder and manslaughter over Floyd's death last May, which ignited massive nationwide and global protests against racism and for police reform. His trial is due to start this Monday, with jury selection procedures.