It was a Friday night news dump like rarely seen before: President Donald Trump’s administration announced a series of polarizing decisions that had been under discussions for weeks, just as a hurricane bore down on the Texas coast.
Trump privately had signaled for weeks he would pardon Sheriff Joe Arpaio, praising the sheriff’s loyalty and telling at least one adviser that his base wanted it badly.
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Seb Gorka, a national security aide, was on the outs with Chief of Staff John Kelly after criticizing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on TV earlier in August. Kelly had told others Gorka had no future in the White House, and Gorka had aligned himself closely with now ousted chief strategist Steve Bannon.
And Trump’s top advisers had scrambled to write implementation orders for the military transgender ban for several weeks, after Trump startled lawyers and advisers with tweets they considered ill-advised and had warned against.
The pardon, the exit and the guidelines all came on Friday evening, as a ferocious hurricane barreled down the Texas coastline, dizzying chyron operators and buzzing phones across Washington. White House aides and advisers said it was coordinated to handle polarizing decisions that were sure to alienate various constituencies.
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