Under cover of night and as the natural disaster of Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas, Trump executed a series of actions (wouldn’t bet on it being a carefully planned strategy) that placated his base, intimidated his enemies, eliminated a pest and unleashed his hate-mongering surrogates.
Trump signaled his intention to pardon convicted felon and former Maricopa County Sheriff, Joe Arpaio, in Monday night’s red-meat rally in Arizona. The pardon is arguably the most dangerous, single act of this administration.
Arpaio’s pardon sends a strong signal to those currently the targets investigations by the special prosecutor, Robert Mueller. Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, and others under Mueller’s scrutiny may now reason that no matter what the outcomes of their respective investigations, they are inoculated from penalty by Trump’s willingness to casually exercise the Constitutional and essentially unlimited power of the Presidential pardon. The timing is especially disturbing since just this week, Mueller issued a new round of subpoenas; for witnesses, not just documents,
The pardon sends a signal to his base that while he delivered the “unifying” speech denouncing the hatred and violence that defined the Charlottesville demonstrations, he did so under duress. Pardoning Arpaio showed them that he is still “their guy.” No need for “dog-whistling.” This is crystal clear.
Finally, the pesky, Nazi-sympathizer, Gorka left the White House. He literally disappeared quietly into the dark night. His presence was becoming far too troublesome for Trump. Once Bannon was out, Gorka had to go.
Now both Bannon and Gorka are free to speak and act without restraint. They can do, say and publish what they wish without the burden of gaining clearance from the west wing or figuring out how to leak it. No. Now a just wink and a nod in Trump’s direction will be sufficient.