By Zeke J Miller
August 28, 2017

President Trump has been live-tweeting his response to the devastating hurricane in Texas, as he prepares to visit the state to view the disaster zone Tuesday. It’s the first natural disaster of the Trump presidency, and thus far he has avoided any significant missteps. Trump has left the management of the response to state and local officials and to federal professional officials whose messages he’s echoed. The president has been largely invisible beside from Twitter, with Vice President Mike Pence and Homeland Security Advisor Tom Bossert taking the lead on speaking for the Administration. Trump will change that later Monday when he holds a joint press conference with the President of Finland.

As the hurricane barreled toward Texas Friday, Trump sought to bury a host of controversial decisions. On Friday afternoon, Trump formally sent the Pentagon guidance on his plan to ban transgender service members from the military—though the full scope of the announcement, which he first previewed on Twitter last month, is still not clear. Trump also parted ways with Seb Gorka, the cable television fixture and self-proclaimed “irregular warfare” expert who had little formal role in the White House. A former Breitbart employee, he is returning to the Steve Bannon-run site and firing back at Trump’s more conventional advisors who remain in the West Wing. And Trump pardoned convicted former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, in a decision that was condemned by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Arizona Sen. John McCain. Trump had teased the action at a Phoenix rally earlier in the week. Arpaio was convicted of criminal contempt of court in a long-running civil rights lawsuit over his alleged discriminatory tactics from his time as sheriff.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis have each taken steps to distance themselves from Trump’s rhetoric in recent days. Tillerson’s shocking assertion Sunday that Trump doesn’t speak to American values highlights the growing gulf between the president and his top aides, to say nothing of the country at large.

Trump’s abandoned Moscow deal. Trump approves military gear for local police. And more lawsuits for Trump.

Here are your must reads:

Must Reads

Trump’s Business Sought Deal on a Trump Tower in Moscow While He Ran for President
Dropped in 2016 [Washington Post]

Team Trump Turns to Rove Playbook to Juice 2018 Turnout
Republicans are considering putting hot-button initiatives on the ballot to excite the base when little else currently is [Politico]

Trump Set to Roll Back Limits on Military Gear for Police
Restrictions put in place after Ferguson [Associated Press]

President Trump Has Taken a Key Step to Implement His Transgender Military Ban
Effects are still unclear [TIME]

Why Trump’s Pardon of Arpaio Follows Law, Yet Challenges It
It was legal, but it tested the Constitution [New York Times]

Sound Off

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson: “I don’t believe anyone doubts the American people’s values or the commitment of the American government or the government’s agencies to advancing those values and defending those values.”

Fox News’ Chris Wallace: “And the president’s values?”

Tillerson: “The president speaks for himself, Chris.”

Wallace: “Are you separating yourself from that, sir?”

Tillerson: “I’ve made my own comments as to our values as well in a speech I gave to the State Department this past week.”

Bits and Bites

In response to Trump tweet, Mexico reiterates it won’t pay for the wall [CNN]

‘No One Is Above the Law.’ John McCain and Others Slam President Trump for Pardoning Joe Arpaio [TIME]

How President Trump’s Pardon of Joe Arpaio Breaks With White House History [TIME]

Exiles on Pennsylvania Avenue: How Jared and Ivanka Were Repelled by Washington’s Elite [Vanity Fair]

Fall Movie Preview: Hollywood confronts the Trump era [Associated Press]

Donald Trump to FEMA Chief on Hurricane Harvey: ‘The World Is Watching’ [TIME]

Top State Department Officials Step Down in “Black Friday” Exodus [Foreign Policy]

Zinke’s veteran daughter excoriates Trump in response to transgender military ban [Billings Gazette]

Mattis to troops: “Hold the line” until U.S. is less divided [Axios]

Sebastian Gorka gone from White House [CNN]

Joe Biden: ‘We Are Living Through a Battle for the Soul of This Nation’ [The Atlantic]

Trump Forges Ahead on Costly Nuclear Overhaul [New York Times]

Some in GOP consider supporting a primary challenge to Trump [Associated Press]

President Trump Tweets About 2016 Election and Border Wall in the Midst of Hurricane Harvey [TIME]

ACLU Sues President Trump Over Transgender Military Ban [Associated Press]

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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