Aug 26, 2017

The message behind the pardon

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."

Go deeper

Wisconsin Supreme Court blocks governor from delaying state's primary

Tony Evers. Photo: Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

Wisconsin's Supreme Court on Monday blocked an executive order by Gov. Tony Evers (D) that attempted to delay in-person voting for the state's primary election — currently scheduled for Tuesday — until June 9.

Driving the news: Judges ruled 4-2 along ideological lines that Evers does not have the power as governor to unilaterally postpone the election, despite the fact that the state has a stay-at-home order in place due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 5 mins ago - Health

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 5 p.m. ET: 1,331,032 — Total deaths: 73,917 — Total recoveries: 275,851Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 5 p.m. ET: 356,942 — Total deaths: 10,524 — Total recoveries: 18,999Map.
  3. 2020 update: Wisconsin governor orders in-person primary voting delayed until June.
  4. States latest: West Coast states send ventilators to New York and other states with more immediate need — Data suggest coronavirus curve may be flattening in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
  5. World update: U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson moved to intensive care as coronavirus symptoms worsen.
  6. Stocks latest: The S&P 500 closed up 7% on Monday, while the Dow rose more than 1,500 points.
  7. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal health. Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Stocks jump 7% despite bleak coronavirus projections

People passing by the New York Stock Exchange amid the coronavirus pandemic. Photo: John Nacion/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The S&P 500 closed up 7% on Monday, while the Dow rose more than 1,500 points.

Why it matters: The huge market surge comes amid rare optimistic signs that the spread of the coronavirus may be slowing in parts of the country, including New York. But government officials say this will be a difficult week, while economists — including former Fed chair Janet Yellen today — warn that the pandemic could have a catastrophic impact on the global economy.