The news you may have missed during Harvey

Last Updated Aug 28, 2017 2:36 PM EDT

The Trump administration faced a busy weekend, even as Tropical Storm Harvey devastated millions of Texas residents. Here’s some of the major political news you may have missed while keeping up with the storm.

President Trump pardoned former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio Friday shortly after being advised against it. White House lawyers suggested refraining from the Arpaio pardon until after he is sentenced for contempt.

“Throughout his time as Sheriff, Arpaio continued his life’s work of protecting the public from the scourges of crime and illegal immigration,” reads a statement from the White House released Friday. Later, Mr. Trump added in a tweet that Arpaio “kept Arizona safe!”

Arpaio was awaiting sentencing after he was convicted of criminal contempt last month. He was found guilty of disproportionately targeting Latinos through traffic patrols in his Arizona county.

“I feel very privileged for the president to issue this… pardon,” Arpaio told CBS affiliate KPHO. “He’s a big supporter of law enforcement. I know it came from his heart.”

Deputy Assistant to the President Sebastian Gorka left the Trump administration Friday, CBS News confirmed.

Several sources familiar with the matter said that Gorka expressed “dissatisfaction with the current state of the administration” in a letter to Mr. Trump prior to his resignation. The letter also cites Mr. Trump’s recent speech on strategy in the war in Afghanistan as a reason for his frustration at the White House.

A White House official said that Gorka had not resigned, while confirming that he no longer works at the White House.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is now examining the role former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn may have played in an attempt to get hacked Hillary Clinton emails from Russian hackers, according to reports.

Mueller, who was appointed to investigate possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, will investigate whether or not Flynn had a part in attempts to obtain the former Democratic presidential candidate’s emails from Russian hackers, according to the Wall Street Journal.

In June, the WSJ reported that a Republican activist named Peter W. Smith believed that Russian hackers may have acquired thousands of Hillary Clinton’s emails, which she said were personal and had been deleted. Smith said he had been in contact with five groups of hackers, two of whom he believed to be composed of Russians. Smith suggested that he had Flynn’s support in these efforts.

Mueller has recently issued grand jury subpoenas to public relations executives connected to former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

A source familiar with the matter confirmed the existence of the subpoenas to CBS News. This comes after an FBI raid of Manafort’s home last month provided the investigation with a variety of records.

The PR executives worked on a Ukrainian lobbying campaign organized by Manafort. Mueller’s team will focus on Manafort’s lobbying efforts between 2012 and 2014 for a pro-Russian Ukrainian political party, his offshore banking and some of his financial dealings.

Mr. Trump signed a memo Friday directing the Department of Defense to renew the ban on transgender military recruiting and outlining other restrictions relating to transgender military service members.

The formal guidelines include:

  • A ban on recruiting new transgender service members
  • The government’s refusal to pay for sex reassignment surgery
  • A review of the status of current service members over the next six months

The guidelines are a step back from the president’s announcement in a tweet last month that transgender individuals would not be allowed to serve in “any capacity” in the United States military.

Sunday morning, the president engaged in a tweet storm regarding the U.S.-Mexico border.

“With Mexico being one of the highest crime Nations in the world, we must have THE WALL. Mexico will pay for it through reimbursement/other,” Mr. Trump wrote in a tweet. 

He followed up by threatening to terminate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), calling it the “worst trade deal ever made” and adding that both Mexico and Canada are “being very difficult” in the renegotiation process. 

In response, Mexico’s foreign ministry released its own statement saying the country “will not pay, under any circumstances, for a wall or physical barrier built on U.S. territory along the Mexican border.” It went on to add that Mexico won’t renegotiate NAFTA over social media, and said of the president’s language on drug trafficking problems in Mexico that the U.S. shares the responsibility, given the high demand for illegal drugs in the U.S.

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Source: CBS News – Politics

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