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NEW DAY SATURDAY
Hurricane Harvey Destruction ; President Trump Pardons Sherriff Joe Arpaio; White House Aid Sebastian Gorka Resigns; North Korea Fires Missiles Towards US. Aired 6-7a ET
Aired August 26, 2017 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
NICK GIGNAC, RIDING OUT THE STORM ON CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS (via telephone): -- however, I happen to have a mother who had a surgery on her neck scheduled for a number of months on Thursday. So, she was into the hospital on Thursday and interestingly enough, the hospital evacuated Friday morning.
She was due to be discharged, but she was not in shape to leave the city. So, me and a few other of my family members were kind of obliged to stay here and make sure that she was taken care of.
And again, you know, we have been through a number of storms here. We knew this was going to be a big one and the intensity and duration was going to be longer than before, but we had -- we were privileged have to get a home, although close to the water, that has survived a number of these storms.
We had the correct amount of protection on our windows and things like that and we kind of prayed for the best, although we're hearing there's quite a bit of damage happening around us.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. We're beginning with the breaking news of Hurricane Harvey now barreling down on the Texas coast. It has been downgraded to a Category 1 storm after making landfall as a Cat 4, but the winds and the rain, they are still hitting this area hard.
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: And that's what is so dangerous over the next five to seven days here. This storm, obviously, is something we're watching very closely. As we were just a little while away from maybe daylight coming up, people being able to assess what's going on even though there's still a lot of rain coming down there right now, which, again, is a big concern.
But there are some other big headlines coming out of the White House this morning as well. For instance, President Trump pardoned former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio who had been found guilty of criminal contempt for disregarding a court order in a racial profiling case. The president also signed a directive to implement the military transgender ban. All of this as his controversial adviser, Sebastian Gorka, resigned.
And finally, North Korea still defiant this morning. Overnight, Pyongyang test-fired three short-range missiles.
BLACKWELL: Let's continue with our coverage of Hurricane Harvey and our team of reporters along the Texas gulf coast where this storm came ashore.
PAUL: Nick Valencia is in Corpus Christi, Texas. We have Polo Sandoval there in San Antonio. But Nick, we want to go out to you first. Two hundred thousand plus people without power. We know that the rain is still coming and the rain is a big concern. Have you heard anything about the storm surge? Because that was also on the radar as something to really watch.
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, we're just on the edge of the sea wall, Christi, and the storm surge prediction was about six feet there yesterday. During the height of the storm, we saw those waves crashing over the wall, winds whipping through Corpus Christi.
The big issue here, though, this morning, as you mention, is the power outages. Across the state, you have, 211,000 people estimated to be without power. Majority of those here about 160,000 in Corpus Christi lost power.
We rode out the storm along with many other people here at the Omni Hotel. We did not lose power, thankful to a generator here, but much of the community did. The big potential here for the catastrophe ahead is major flooding.
This storm system, yes, it hit south Texas. It did weaken. It's now a Category 1, 90 mile-an-hour winds, but what has happened now is it's stalled over us and is continuing to dump rain.
A lot of these lower lying areas have a great risk of being hit with some major flooding over the course of the next couple of days. So that's what we will be keeping an eye out.
The community, we understand, has been really, really hard, though, is Rockport, Texas, which is about 20 miles south of here. We're hoping that in the next couple of hours as the sun comes up, we'll get a true scope and the sense of the significant damage that hit here in coastal Texas -- guys.
BLACKWELL: Nick, any idea of the types of calls that are coming into first responders and if, at this point and at what point they'll be able to get out to answer some of those?
VALENCIA: We have reached out to first responders. They say right now they have not heard any significant calls of reports of injuries or fatalities. So that's the good news. Right now, just to reiterate and emphasize this, Victor, it is just the power outages right now. You see behind me the wind really isn't whipping or picking up like we saw yesterday. Even earlier this morning it was a lot stronger, but if it's any indication of what we experienced yesterday, the bands coming in here, it was ebbing and flowing.
The significance and the force of those winds, sometimes it was a little lighter and you think that you have some relief only for an hour later for it to pick up again. Right now, this morning, it has been a little calm.
We don't anticipate or suspect that the first responders are really dealing with anything major here. That is some welcome news for a community that was anticipating and expecting to take a significant hit -- Victor and Christi.
[06:05:08] BLACKWELL: The power outages are going to be a problem because we're at a time of the year where the heat will be stifling in some of those homes without air conditioning.
Then people will come out of their homes to get some relief and that's where the danger will be with the downed power lines and the flooding. So, we'll have to watch that as the sun comes up this morning.
Nick Valencia in Corpus Christi, thanks so much.
Let's go now to CNN's Polo Sandoval live in San Antonio for us. We know, Polo, that's where a lot of people are coming to get some potential relief.
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Victor. We could potentially see even more people because you just brought up a really important point here. Even after that storm passes, some of those coastal communities, many of those communities will be without power.
And though their homes may have made it through the storm, in the summer heat, it will be very difficult for people to still remain there. So, cities like San Antonio have essentially opened their doors up to people who live in some of those communities like Corpus Christi.
We have already seen hundreds of people move into some of the shelters that have been set up here in the Alamo City. Officials tell me that about 6,000 shelter beds have been offered up. They do expect many people to begin to take advantage of that.
Important to be here since San Antonio is a federally designated evacuation zone. We have seen this play out in 2005, for example, when Hurricane Katrina displaced so many families in Louisiana, many people made their way to Houston and also here to San Antonio.
And again, officials are now preparing to do that again. Now, as far as what we've been seeing here and the weather, only about an hour and a half ago, we began to feel some of the effects of Hurricane Harvey with some occasional rain that's let up quite a bit here.
We still have some of that gusty wind, but the concern here, though, is the potential for flooding as this storm potentially disorganizes. It's still going to pose that threat for flash flooding.
This part of the country, this part of the state, is fairly prone to flooding. So as a result, officials have been keeping a close eye on some of the low-lying areas. So really, that's what we're seeing right now here in San Antonio.
City officials caught doing two pretty serious tasks here, bringing in some of the evacuees and also warning some of the residents that they could potentially see flooding in the hours perhaps days to come -- guys.
PAUL: Yes. The next five to seven days, we understand, pretty dicey. Allison Chinchar, our meteorologists, saying they could see up to 40 inches of rain in some places because this thing is just not going to move.
We're looking at your radar behind you, Allison. So, what are they feeling now? Is it the outer bands behind the eye?
ALLISON CHINCHAR, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes. So, right now, you've got a combination of where the heavy rain is, but also where the warnings are. Let's look at that. You've got the blue color indicating tropical storm warnings and that extends from Houston out towards San Antonio and then hurricane warnings still for places like Victoria and Corpus Christi.
But we're also dealing with another type of warning, that's tornado warnings. We've got one right now just due west of Houston, and we've been seeing multiples of those all throughout the morning.
I mean, you have one, two, even three tornado warnings at a time give or take some of these regions. That is likely going to continue. We have a tornado watch in effect for this region right here until 1:00 this afternoon.
And that could potentially even be extended later on into the day as that threat for severe weather does stick with us. Right now, winds about 90 miles per hour. So yes, again, we have started to see it weaken in strength.
But I want to emphasize, 90 miles per hour is still enough to destroy a mobile home. It will blow out all the windows of your house. This is still a very strong storm. Moving northwest at 6 miles per hour. It is incredibly slow.
Overall on the scale, it will still remain a Category 1 hurricane until it gets below 74 miles per hour. That's when you'll finally start to see it drop back to a tropical storm.
But if you look on the forecast track, it's still expected to remain a Category 1 storm for at least the rest of today before we finally see it weaken enough to where it will start to take a bigger hit.
The overall track, again notice, it still doesn't move all that much. That's why we've talking about rain being such a huge factor because these areas will get hit with rain over and over and over again. Oswell, Texas already has 9 inches of rain. Victor and Christi, same thing for Victoria, and even Edna, Texas, over 7.5 inches of rain. They have the potential to get as much as 30 even 40 more inches of rain.
BLACKWELL: All right. Just day one. Allison Chinchar, thanks so much.
PAUL: We're getting images here at CNN as this hurricane has torn through the Texas gulf coast.
BLACKWELL: The rain is on track to create a flooding disaster. We have reporters out there in the middle of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[06:10:05] MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It seems at every hour I keep telling people that it couldn't get worse and yet every hour it does seem to get worse. And now it's about the worst we've seen.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: When you're out here in the darkness, the wind is howling so loudly that it's really hard to hear anything beyond that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hurricane Harvey is making landfall as we speak.
JUSTIN HOME, KSAT METEOROLOGIST: Here in corpus, we've been dealing with this strong wind and it's been going for about three or four hours now.
ROBERT ARNOLD, KPRC REPORTER: Look at that wind right here. Not only the is the water ponding, the wind is whipping it into a froth.
SAVIDGE: Even though this storm has come ashore, it's not the end of anything. This is really the beginning of the second and perhaps even the more deadly or dangerous phase.
DAVID YEOMANS, KXAN METEOROLOGIST: Our ears were popping when the eye was arriving, the pressure dropped really, really quickly like you're going up in an airplane.
ERIC FUENTES, CORPUS CHRISTI RESIDENT (via telephone): There's been rain and heavy, heavy wind.
SAVIDGE: This just fell a short while ago on our position here. You can imagine why -- and this is why you don't go out in a storm like this when this stuff is in the air.
NICK GIGNAC, CORPUS CHRISTI RESIDENT (via telephone): It's interesting that this thing is turning into quite the marathon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: All right, as we now get to the daylight hours where we'll start to see some of the severe damage we're getting reports of overnight. PAUL: Rockport specifically has been hit pretty hard. We understand that there is some damage through downtown there. The National Weather Service told the city manager there hurricane force winds can be expected through the night. We're going to talk to somebody there, find out what it is like there this hour. Stay close.
PAUL: Always so grateful to have you with us here. As we continue our live coverage of Hurricane Harvey and waiting for the sun to come up there in Texas to try to get a better picture of exactly what has been left for this storm overnight.
We know that it was pounding the Texas coast. Homes, we know, have been destroyed. Power lines have been down. Still at this hour 200,000 plus people who do not have power.
BLACKWELL: All right. So, right now, it's a Category 1. Winds are sustained at 90 miles per hour, but look at what it has been. This came ashore as a strong Category 4 storm. Areas there we know are facing severe flooding, and the rain and the winds are expected to continue over the next several days. Rockport, Texas, one of the areas hardest hit there on the gulf coast.
PAUL: It's just north of Corpus Christi and Port Arancas. That's where you can see some of the water flowing. This is a hotel and that's some of the water that is coming into that hotel.
The city manager says the extensive damage is downtown. That's what the fire chief is hearing as well. There are emergency calls that have been rolling in. We do have the fire chief on the phone with us, I believe, Chief Sims. Chief Sims, can you hear me?
PAUL: Thank you so much for being with us. We understand at one point you were getting emergency calls in, but nobody could respond obviously because of the weather situation there. What is it like now?
CHIEF STEVE SIMS, ROCKPORT, TEXAS FIRE DEPARTMENT (via telephone): It is beginning to slack off some. We're still unable to respond to anything being it's still dark. So, we don't have a real good outlook on what's, you know, out in the neighborhoods.
PAUL: Do you know what -- when you say emergency calls were coming in, what were those calls? What were the folks in need of?
SIMS: Well, most of our calls have been coming in from out of town that, you know, they had relatives that lived here and they, you know, have been in text contact or phone contact with them, and collapsed roofs, trees on houses and such as that.
BLACKWELL: So essentially welfare checks from people out of town to check on their loved ones who live in Rockport there?
BLACKWELL: OK. So, let me ask you -- I understand from my producer that you're having communications problems. What are the problems there?
SIMS: We have lost all communications right now.
BLACKWELL: What's that mean? Cell phone --
SIMS: Cell phones, internet, all of our radio equipment is down.
BLACKWELL: So there is no way for people to even get in contact with Rockport Fire Department right now?
SIMS: Other than this one landline.
PAUL: Is that what you're on right now?
BLACKWELL: Well, we won't keep you on it too long. Let me ask you one more question here. We got reports that there was a roof collapse at a senior home. What can you tell us about that?
SIMS: I really can't confirm it. I know we have a good bit of damage, but not being able to get out and see for myself what we got. I know we have lost one of our smaller substation fire buildings. And so, I mean, I've got 22 firemen sitting here where we bunkered down and just itching to get the weather to do it.
PAUL: Do you have any idea how many people evacuated or did most people stay in Rockport?
SIMS: Not real sure. Not enough.
PAUL: Not enough. OK.
BLACKWELL: All right. We don't want to keep you on this landline too long considering this is the only line that you have to communicate with the people in Rockport.
[06:20:04] Fire chief there, Steve Sims, in Rockport, which is getting some of the worst of what we've seen over the last few hours. Thank you so much for spending a few minutes with us.
PAUL: Take care and do stay safe and very best to all of the folks there in Rockport.
Now a CNN affiliate crew was staying in that Rockport hotel, as you saw there, as they were riding out the storm. Their building was hit. They say there's some serious damage there.
BLACKWELL: They stepped outside to take a look during a moment of calm as the eye of the storm passed over that. I want you to watch what happened as they were out there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is incredible. This is kind of our first look, guys, at the first half of Hurricane Harvey's damage in the parking lot. The eye is here. A second ago these were 140, 150-mile- per-hour gusts. Now it's a beautiful evening. A little bit of mist.
First experience in a hurricane eye. Our ears were popping when the eye was arriving. The pressure dropped really, really quickly, like you're going up in an airplane as that eye arrived. A very tight gradient, too, so the last couple miles -- I would admit, I did not know the extent of this damage.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Watch your foot.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our room is on this side of the building, isn't it? Right here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, we're on the opposite.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Actually -- (inaudible).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we can get more people to leave. It's a (inaudible).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Half the building, yes, it will have water damage or whatever. This side of the building. We have ten days of supplies. This is the most structurally sound building. You take everybody else somewhere, then we are -- you are taking how many people? How many people are here? How many supplies? You say they were loading up supplies.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, I'm on your side. I just wanted to see the structural damage.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just saw it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The staircase. It will affect several -- almost half the building.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you want this staircase? Go up that staircase.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's fine. We have half a building.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: Still a very messy situation. Obviously, you can imagine as people are holed up and wondering and not getting answers, wondering how long they can sustain where they are because we're hearing that this is -- even though it's been downgraded to a Category 1. This is a five to seven-day event potentially with some serious flooding, life threatening it's still being called and we're now a couple of hours away from the sun coming up there to try to discern exactly what's left.
BLACKWELL: Yes. This came ashore as a Category 4 right between Port Aransas and Port O'Connor. Just southwest of that is Corpus Christi. We are going to check in with Nick Valencia who is there. That's coming up after the break.
Also, we got pictures from Galveston we'll bring you. Stay with us. Our continuing coverage of Hurricane Harvey continues in a moment.
BLACKWELL: And the breaking news this morning, Hurricane Harvey is stalling right over the Texas gulf coast, already destroyed homes, taken down power lines. Hundreds of thousands of people are in the dark.
PAUL: And the threat is evolving now into a flooding event. Harvey is a Category 1 storm. It has been downgraded from a Category 4 when it hit, but it is still packing dangerous winds. We're talking 90 miles per hour here.
The rain and flooding threat, though, that is growing higher by the hour. Take a look at this person who at some point late in the evening was trying to get include the water. I don't know what they were thinking or how they are. We hope they're OK.
Severe flooding, though, has hit coastal areas, we're told. We have reports of water rising as high as 6 to 7 feet. The fire chief of Rockport, Texas, who we just talked to a couple of moments ago said that most lines of communication in that area are down.
He was communicating with us by a landline. At that point, just a few minutes ago, that was the only mode of communication they had. The internet, cell phones all down.
BLACKWELL: So, we've got live pictures for you from Galveston here. You see the beach and the froth there as the wind continues to whip up over that water. The storm surge will be the story as the winds are downgraded over the next several hours.
This has gone from a 4 to a 1. Still can cause damage in a Category 1, but let's go to Nick Valencia. He is in Corpus Christi just southwest of where this storm made landfall. Nick, give us the latest on the conditions you're seeing there.
VALENCIA: Well, just in the course of the last 15 minutes, Victor, we've seen some of those bands continue to hover over us from Hurricane Harvey, the wind picking up a little bit. Rain slightly starting to pick up as well. It is worth noting that officials overnight issued a boil water advisory here for the town's residents. We know power outages are also a major issue. You mentioned hundreds of thousands of people without power. About 211,000 people statewide, majority of them right here in Corpus Christi.
And Corpus Christi, of course, being the major city nearest to the center of the storm that made landfall about 20 miles away from here north in place called Rockport. We hope to get a better sense of the damage in a couple of hours as the sun comes up. We know just a short time ago Corpus Christi officials on social media, were soliciting calls from local residents asking them to report downed trees, downed power lines. Of course, those power lines are a major concern. A lot of people still very curious, I'm sure, wanting to see the damage outside. It's still a little bit dark outside guys, but officials stressing that it is best to stay indoors until it's absolutely safe to go outside.
CHRISTIE PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: So Nick are you getting any indication as to when officials think they might be able to address some of the power outages? Because as Victor rightly mentioned earlier, the heat particularly in that area of the country right now, I mean, that alone can kill people.
VALENCIA: Well unless this county emergency management says that it would be a couple of hours before they got the scope of the damage. They were going to wait till the sun comes up. That's according to local affiliate reporting here. So we really just don't know. Right now it's too dark to understand how bad it was outside last night.
We know that we rode the storm through it here with a lot of other people at the Omni. The winds were howling. Those rain bands were really slamming against our hotel, but I think the expectation was that it was going to be a lot worse, and residents here, at least those that we've spoken to this morning, say they're cautious, cautiously optimistic that the worst of it has passed, but they know this storm system has stalled over Texas and will continue to pour and dump down rain here across the state of Texas.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Nick Valencia for us in Corpus Christi, we'll check back in just a few minutes. And were getting reports of flooding in some areas as high as six to seven feet.
Let's go now to CNN's Allison Chinchar. Allison The last time we spoke to you, before we get to the flooding, we were talking about the tornado warnings and watches, there which are not all that unusual, while there's a hurricane coming ashore.
ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEROLIST: No, especially in the outer bands. You know most people, you focus on the eye for being your strongest winds, but those outer bands have very high potential to have tornadoes that we often see with tropical systems. Its not just hurricane's, even tropical storms can produce that. Here's a look at hurricane Harvey. Winds right now at 90 miles per hour. But the storm is still struggling albeit, but it is still trying to hold its own. The eye still very much intact, the shape of the storm still looks relatively good. But again the big concern going forward is going to be not just severe weather potential but also flooding.
Here's a look as we zoom down closer into Houston. Galveston and Houston starting to get heavier bands of rain. But the other concern they've had so far this morning is tornado warnings. We've had multiple ones of them throughout the morning. And that about to continue, this red box you see here is a tornado watch. That's in effect until 1:00 p.m. Central time today.
The overall threat for severe weather does exist basically stretching from the Louisiana, Texas border stretching all the way down towards Corpus Christi where, yes, we have the potential for tornadoes. The track itself doesn't really move all that much. That's a concern for flooding. You heard us talk about it. 30 even 40 inches of rain potential. That's the short-term problem. That's from now for the next five days.
The long-term threat is actually going to be the rivers. Right now we have 51 river gauges at major flood stage. Almost 20 of them at moderate flood stage. And Victor, Christi, one thing to point out is the rivers are going to be a problem for about a month.
Here's why. You're going to get heavy rain for the next week. So those rivers will fill up over the next week. It takes another week for them to peak because of how it takes a wait for everything to come down. Then it's going to take another two weeks before the rivers actually get back to normal. So this is going to be a big long-term concern for this region.
BLACKWELL: All right, Allison Chinchar, thanks for watching that for us. We'll check back in just a few.
PAUL: So obviously, as we keep our eye on Harvey and Texas, there's a lot going on in Washington, D.C. We've got a Presidential pardon, another white house departure. New details about the Russia investigation and Michael Flynn. Let's not forget North Korea. They fired off three missiles overnight. We'll tell you about all of it.
[6:40:00] PAUL: Oh, my goodness. Welcome back to our live coverage of hurricane Harvey. So grateful to have you with us here. The powerful storm is stalling over the Texas coast right now, and that is what is causing problems. We know there are homes destroyed, we know there are power lines that are down. We know that there are over 200,000 people who do not have power. But this is now a category 1 storm, which we think is good news, but not really because it's not going anywhere.
BLACKWELL: And 90 miles per hour. The wind there can still cause some damage. This is a rain event expected to drop more than three feet of rain by Wednesday. And We just received this from FEMA director Brock Long on twitter. He says citizens of Texas, this is now turning into a deadly inland event. Thoughts and prayers are with you. We'll, of course, continue to bring you the latest from officials as they respond to hurricane Harvey.
PAUL: An awful lot has happened over the last 12 to 16 hours in politics as well. Reaction this morning coming into the Presidential pardon, of former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
BLACKWELL: Civil rights groups and some Republican lawmakers are criticizing the decision. It comes as the President loses another white house aide.
PAUL: CNN's Boris Sanches is live in Washington walking us through all of the headlines this morning and there are a plethora of them. Good morning, Boris.
BORIS SANCHES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning Victor and Christi. Yes, perhaps Not surprising that again on a Friday the white house dropped some major stories on us. First, you've got the pardon of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the man known as America's toughest sheriff. There's speculation that the President might do this.
You'll recall several weeks ago he tweeted that it was something he was seriously considering, and then at that rally on Tuesday in Phoenix, he mentioned that the Sheriff should be, quote, okay, if you recall, the Sheriff was found guilty of contempt of court for having disobeyed a Judge's order to discontinue a program that was found to be illegal because it racially profiled Hispanics. In a statement from the White House, it cited the Sheriff's more than 50 years of service to this country to make him a, quote, worthy candidate for the pardon.
Then you've also got the departure of Sebastian Gorka, he was a counter terrorism advisor for the President, known for his combative, aggressive style, a strong defender of the President. He was also part of that Steve Bannon economic nationalist wing of the White House. With Bannon's departure, a lot of people figured it was only a matter of time before Gorka left the White House as well. We've got some conflicting statements on his departure. One White House official telling CNN that he resigned. Another more senior official telling us that he did not resign, but that he is no longer at the White House. You can read into that what you will.
Then lastly, we should mention there was an update on the President's transgender ban, the banning of transgender people from the armed services. According to a white house directive that was put out last night, they've canceled an Obama-era effort to recruit transgender people into the armed services. They've also given the department of homeland security some broad power to determine what to do with those transgender people currently serving in the armed forces. So again, three major stories on a Friday evening in the middle of this huge storm where all eyes are away from Washington, Victor and Christi. BLACKWELL: All right, Boris Sanchez for us there in Washington.
Thank you so much.
SANCHEZ: Thank you.
BLACKWEL: Joining us now, CNN political commentator and political anchor for "Spectrum News", Errol Louis. And I want to start with the pardon of Sheriff Arpaio and a tweet that came out from the acting Attorney General who was fired early in the Trump administration, Sally Yates. And she tweeted "With this pardon pen Potus reveals his own contempt for our constitution, our courts and our founding principles of equality and justice. This was the law and order candidate and the law and order President. This seems to maybe suggest a different definition of law and order."
ERROL LOIUS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, that's right. Law and order is one set of principles. Loyalty to Trump and to Trump's political base and his political ambitions is another set of principles. We can see in this case which one really trumps the other, so to speak. You've got a case here -- and we want to be careful here, Victor. The contempt of court's crime that was committed by Joe Arpaio was really only one of a very long string of abuses.
I mean, we're talking about, you know, people who were supposed to be released from jail who he kept past their release date just because he felt like it. He thought they might be undocumented immigrants, you know. We're talking about a judge citing him in 2013 and then he launched an investigation of the Judge and his wife.
There were multiple abuses, multiple problems that led to him being voted out of office and led to him being convicted. So, you know Donald Trump said that he was going to do it. He hinted at it. He went ahead and did it. He believed that it serves his political interests to do so. I don't know what message that's supposed to send other than that. People who want to trample on other people's rights, if they're in the same political camp as the President might get a reprieve from him legally speaking.
PAUL: Well, I want to ask you about Sebastian Gorka because now, first it was Bannon, now it's Gorka. They're both from that nationalist thought process. What do you make of the fact that they're now both gone?
LOUIS: Some of it had to do with the fact that they were running kind of a rogue operation within the White House, right? Sebastian Gorka, I remember being on multiple programs where he'd be talking scornfully, and sarcastically and, making all kinds of pronouncements about national security but he wasn't on the national security council.
He had a relatively vague undefined role. He would criticize other members of the administration apparently including the Secretary of State which I think was the last straw that saw him get thrown out of there. [06:50:00] Steve Bannon was kind of the same. They were so busy
playing politics within the administration, so busy trying to sort of fight for the President's attention and undo their ideological enemies within the White House that, whether their view was going to prevail or not.
The style in which they conducted this internal warfare was just unacceptable. The chaos within the White House was, I think, what proved to be their undoing, not so much the substance of their ideology.
PAUL: Mm, okay.
BLACKWELL: What do you make of the timing here? These two, this dismissal and the pardon paired to soothing maybe the base, the base that would be disappointed with the dismissal of Sebastian Gorka, soothed by the pardoning of Sheriff Arpaio.
LOUIS: You know they're not quite equivalent, Victor, honestly. I mean Sebastian Gorka is a relatively new figure and was maybe known to some elements of breitbart (ph) followers, he was an editor over there.
Joe Arpaio had made himself into sort of a legend over the last few decades by all the different publicity stunts, all of the different attacks that he made on the judicial system. All of his disregard for immigration law and for the rights of the people who lived in Maricopa County.
So I think they're going to be -- and by "they", I mean the base. The Trump base is going to be ecstatic over the pardon of Joseph Arpaio, in part because people like Patrick Leahy and Sally Yates and other legal figures on the other side of the aisle are expressing absolute outrage over all of this.
PAUL: All right, Errol Louis, still so much to talk about. Hopefully talk to you a little bit later. Thank you.
LOUIS: Okay, thanks.
BLACKWELL: Okay, so another major story we have to talk about, North Korea, and this new show of force. The regime fired off three short- range ballistic missiles a few hours ago. Traveled about 150 miles. No threat to the US mainland or Guam. Now this as we know, comes just days after Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson praised the country for showing restraint.
PAUL: The launches cap a week of threats from North Korea. It also comes, we should point out, amid the annual US and South Korea military exercises, that's something that North Korea sees as provocation and as hostile.
Still to come, there were babies who were in intensive care, and they had to be evacuated from hurricane Harvey's path, to North Texas. Our next guest was part of that transport team. And she's with us. Stay close. [06:55:00]
BLACKWELL: Nine minutes before the top of the hour now. We're getting a better idea of the damage caused by hurricane Harvey. We have on the phone with us storm chaser Jim Edds.
PAUL: Jim, I know you've been chasing this all night. And we've heard that there are reports of people of people who have been injured and buildings that have been, have collapsed there in Rockport. What can you tell us?
JIM EDDS, STORM CHASER: I've heard that, too. It's dark right now. The sun's gonna come up here in probably in another hour. Just in the small area we were in there was an 18-wheeler taking shelter behind a building. He flipped over. We came up on that. We don't know if he's still in there or not. There's a light on and we're trying to get in and see.
The big problem here was it's about ten feet above sea level everywhere, but this storm surge was supposed to max out at 12. So you had to get away from the water, but then you had to get out of the wind, too. So there's no place safe in Rockport, Texas. And when the sun comes up, well, we'll get a good look and have some more information for you.
BLACKWELL: Hey, Jim, we're looking at some of the video you shot, that you posted on your twitter account. Give us exactly where this was recorded, the most recent video we're seeing.
EDDS: Yeah, there's a key just right outside Rockport and it's like, its like little strips of land that they've put a marina in there. And they have some really nice houses. I'll tell you that area was going under water when I left it, and the wind came up a whole lot more, a lot more water. I will be surprised if there's much left of that in the morning.
PAUL: we're seeing on our screen here, too, it looks like a transformer might be blowing there. What about any fires? Have you heard anything from that perspective? And what have you heard about some of these buildings that collapsed?
EDDS: Right. Well, it got dark and then the worst of it came in. So you really couldn't move around any. You had to find a safe place. But we started hearing reports, there was a storm chaser that, a few miles out that had a problem and he had to be rescued. But that's all when the eye wall was hitting. You can't move around the eye wall unless you really want to chance things. So cat 4, eye wall storm surge, I got a bad feeling about this storm.
BLACKWELL: All right, Jim Edds, storm chaser there. And this video from @extremestorms if you want to follow him on twitter there. He's giving us a look at what were seeing in Rockport, which we are hearing has had the worst of it. Roof of the high school collapsed. There's damage at the courthouse, severe damage downtown. Roof of a senior apartment building collapsed as well. People taken to the local jail to be checked out and treated. So we'll, of course, watch out what's happening there. We will take a quick break, but we have more on those babies that were moved ahead of the storm.
PAUL: You can't imagine how difficult it is for parents with your baby in NICU as it is, but then to have them transported from the hospital somewhere else in a storm like this, that's got to be excruciating. We're talking to somebody who was part of that transport team next.