The Insiders: August 27th Edition, Who is to Blame for Violent Protests, Displays of Racism?

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  People had a lot to say on social media following the recent violence in Charlottesville, and it appears as if blame is being directed to multiple places.

Dave Price discusses what he saw as reactions to the protests and considers what may or may not be effective ways to fight racism, as well as whether blame for the violence should be placed on various levels.

The Insiders: August 27th Edition, What’s the Status of Race Relations in Iowa?

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  Race has been a widely-discussed topic since the violent Charlottesville protests, and Political Director Dave Price talks to Iowans about their views on race relations in Iowa and across the country.

Des Moines resident Brenda Moore thinks the issue is becoming more prominent in the United States, but Izaah Knox--the executive director of the nonprofit group Urban Dreams--thinks having open and honest conversations can help combat the problem.

The Insiders: August 27th Edition, Iowans’ Political Reactions and Politicians’ Strategies

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  Last week, Political Director Dave Price issued a challenge to Republican politicians in Iowa, asking them to come onto the show and talk about President Trump's response to the violent protests in Charlottesville. While they didn't take him up on the offer, some Iowans had pretty strong opinions about the request.

Doug Gross--a frequent Insiders contributor over the years, former Chief of Staff to Governor Terry Branstad, former Republican nominee for governor, and former advisor to Mitt Romney's presidential campaign--also joined Dave in the studio to discuss the president's strategy and other Republicans' roles.

More Iowa Red Cross Volunteers Traveling to Texas for Storm Relief Work

TEXAS  --  The once-Hurricane Harvey has now been downgraded to a tropical storm, but heavy rains in Texas and Louisiana are expected to cause devastating flooding.

As a result, more help is on the way. On Saturday, the Iowa Red Cross deployed 10 more volunteers to the region, bringing the total number of Iowans sent to the area to 20. The volunteers' duties range from helping provide shelter to handing out medical supplies.

The Red Cross currently has 24 shelters in place in Texas and Louisiana, and 40 more are on standby.

Twenty Red Cross volunteers from Iowa are either in Texas on Sunday night or will soon be in the disaster area. However, with the dangerous flooding conditions, some of them have been unable to get into the city of Houston to help there.

Joe Vich, a Red Cross volunteer from Waterloo, is stuck waiting to help, and spoke with Channel 13 via telephone from Austin, Texas, about 150 miles northwest of his final intended destination. This interview can be heard in the video above.

Houston Residents Reel as Water Levels Continue to Rise

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HOUSTON, Texas  —  Residents of Houston, Texas, woke Sunday to flooded streets and homes, submerged cars and news of high water rescues after Harvey dumped between 15 and 30 inches of rain on the city overnight. The National Weather Service predicted that the city could see as much as 50 inches of rain.

More than 1,000 people had to be rescued overnight, according to Jeff Lindner, a meteorologist with the Harris County Flood Control District.

And the calls didn’t show any sign of stopping.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said in a press conference Sunday morning that there had been more than 2,000 calls to 911 for rescue.

First responders were reportedly inundated with pleas for help while officials asked them to stay put and take shelter so they could focus on helping people in life-threatening situations.

Here’s what it’s like on the ground in Houston right now.


“I just woke up an hour ago and stepped out of the bed into ankle-deep water,” said Jake Lewis, who was visiting Houston for work and found himself stranded in a hotel Sunday morning.

“I’m not going to go out there and get in a bind,” he told CNN. “It’s been madness around here. The water keeps rising.”

Forecasts predict the rain will continue through at least Wednesday as Harvey lingers over southeast Texas, raising the threat of devastating flooding.

FEMA administrator: We’re ‘going to be there for years’

‘Truly devastating’

Ify Echetebu took to Instagram to post photos of her aunt’s house in Dickinson, Texas, southeast of Houston.

“The severity of the situation just hit me,” she wrote. “I’m overcome with grief due to how helpless I feel in all of this. This is truly devastating.”

The water had risen to her waist, she said.

“National Guard is only responding to emergencies and 911 said do not call them.”

‘I’m getting scared’

Darakniqueca La’Shay Burns took to Facebook Live to show how she and her family were stranded inside their flooded home.

Their belongings are piled high on furniture and countertops as the water rises, filled with floating debris.

Burns and her family said they’re trying to keep a positive attitude.

“I’m trying to laugh to keep from crying,” she said. “I don’t even know if we can get out the door it’s so high. We laughing and playing, but for real, it’s getting too high and I’m getting scared.”

The family was able to escape the home and wade through the water to safety, Burns said. She told CNN that she and her child had nowhere to go, but she was grateful they were able to get out.

This is what South Texas looks like after Harvey hit

Houston ‘completely under water’

Rey Güatzin told CNN the water in his home was rising throughout the night.

“We have about five inches of rain inside the house, and we live at the highest point of the street,” the 28-year-old said. “However, outside it’s about two to three feet of rain, perhaps more as rain is continuing throughout the day.”

“It’s scary,” Güatzin said. “I’ve been through many storms in my city, but it has never been this terrible. The city is completely under water.”

The water is still rising

Janet Castillo and her family found themselves walking through knee-deep water Sunday morning. Her husband Luis posted a video to Facebook of the water collecting in their home.

“Send some boats over here,” he can be heard saying in the video.

“We are still stranded in our home with little kids, and the water keeps rising,” Janet Castillo told CNN. “We have called already to several numbers, but no luck.”

The lines were all busy and phone operators didn’t answer, she said.

Former Bernie Sanders Aide Running for Iowa Congressional Seat

IOWA  --  A former top Iowa aide to Senator Bernie Sanders announced he will seek the Democratic party nomination for Iowa's third Congressional district.

Pete D'Alessandro has set out to challenge current GOP Representative David Young for the seat. He vows to expand Medicare-for-All, push for a higher minimum wage, and push for further development of clean and renewable energy. In the past, he has advocated for tuition-free college.

In 2016, D'Alessandro served as Saners' coordinator for the state of Iowa. He has also worked for former governors Tom Vilsack and Chet Culver.

Hurricane Harvey Douses Texas as Coastal Residents Find ‘Devastation’

TEXAS  —  Texans who rode out the most powerful hurricane to hit the United States in a decade ventured out Saturday to find “widespread devastation” as Hurricane Harvey lumbered north in what was “now turning into a deadly inland event.”

With dire warnings of tornadoes, torrential downpours and days of flooding to come, broad swaths of southeast Texas were littered with uprooted trees, toppled signs, flagpoles that snapped like toothpicks and clusters of bricks peeled like scabs from walls and rooftops.

Fatalities were feared in coastal Rockport, Texas, where an estimated 5,000 residents had stayed put for the storm, which blasted ashore as a Category 4 around 11 p.m. ET Friday, between Port Aransas and Port O’Connor, Aransas County Sheriff Bill Mills said.

Callers to the local emergency dispatch line told of walls and roofs collapsing on people across the city, where an official had warned those who opted to stick out the storm to write their Social Security numbers on their arms for body identification.

“There’s been widespread devastation,” Rockport Mayor Charles Wax told CNN late Saturday morning. No deaths had been confirmed, he said, noting that emergency workers were just beginning to go house to house to check on residents and assess damage.

“We’ve already taken a severe blow from the storm, but we’re anticipating another one when the flooding comes,” he said.

The storm by late Saturday morning was still a Category 1, packing winds of 75 mph as it slowed its trek northward to just 2 mph. Some places even far inland were predicted to get as much as 40 inches of rain through Wednesday.

While the worst of the storm surge had ended by midday Saturday, the coastal flooding threat was due to increase as already-swollen rivers and bayous get pounded with heavy rain, CNN meteorologist Michael Guy said. Sea water pushed onto the shore also won’t recede quickly, he said, meaning “this is going to be a long, ongoing flood event.”

Harvey wielded the “highest potential to kill the most amount of people and cause the most amount of damage,” Brock Long, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, had warned. He echoed forecasters who predicted Harvey would be leave areas “uninhabitable for weeks or months,” echoing language last seen ahead of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Here’s where we stand:

Latest developments

— Even after weakening upon landfall, Harvey was still a dangerous storm and “turning into a deadly inland event,” the FEMA chief tweeted.

— Due to stall over Texas, Harvey could maintain tropical storm strength through early Monday, then weaken into a tropical depression, the weather service predicted.

— Parts of southeastern Texas remained under a flash flood watch through Tuesday evening, the National Weather Service office in Houston said.

— More than 300,000 customers on the Texas Gulf Coast had no power around 9:30 a.m. ET Saturday, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas said, amid reports of downed power lines and trees.

— Heavy rain from Harvey’s bands also had reached flood-prone Houston, about 150 miles from the point of landfall.


— Almost 10 inches of rain was reported by 5 a.m. ET Saturday, at a few locations in southeast Texas, the National Weather Service said.

— A tide gauge in Port Lavaca, Texas, reported storm surge of 6.4 feet, the hurricane center said.

— Structural and building problems were reported in Rockport, Aransas Pass, and Port Aransas, Texas, said Tom Beal, a meteorologist with National Weather Service office in Corpus Christi.

— President Donald Trump tweeted early Saturday that he’s “closely monitoring” Harvey from Camp David. Trump, who plans to visit the storm zone next week, has signed a disaster declaration for Texas.

Watch Video

Damage assessments underway

Firefighters who hunkered down in their station in Rockport as Harvey passed over the city of 9,000 residents recounted a harrowing night.

The wind was “howling,” said Roy Laird, assistant chief of the city’s volunteer fire department. “We had probably 140-mph winds earlier.”

For hours, Karl Hattman and his family listened to “what sounded like a freight train” roar outside their Rockport home. When the fury calmed, they headed out into the darkness to find many trees down, debris blocking their driveway and Hattman’s vehicle damaged by flying roof tiles.

Robert Jackson also likened the force of the storm in Rockport to a passing freight train — one with “square wheels.” He didn’t sleep all night.

“It was about the most stressful thing I’ve ever been through,” he said, adding, “It’s my last one to ride out, I’ll tell you that.”

Joey Walker, 25, rode out the storm at a house on Galveston Island. The Galveston Island Beach Patrol employee posted video of near-white out conditions overlooking Stewart Beach.

Taking shelter and bracing for rain

As rain bands reached Houston, Mayor Sylvester Turner urged drivers to stay off the roads.

“This is going to be a major rainmaker,” he told CNN Saturday. “We anticipate four to five days of this.”

“This thing is turning into quite the marathon,” Nick Gignac, of Corpus Christi, told CNN around 2 a.m. ET. “You expect these things to be a quicker flash-and-bang than they are. To be honest, the intensity still hasn’t let up as the storm came in. Things were a little lighter than they are right now, and you expect it to get intense and let up. And things have not let up at all.”

In San Antonio, about 950 people took refuge in shelters, Woody Woodward, a spokesman for the city fire department, told CNN, adding that there was still plenty of space for more people.

Ten critically ill babies in Corpus Christi were taken to a hospital in North Texas ahead of the storm, the Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth said in a statement.

“All our babies made it here safely,” Dawn Lindley, a registered nurse with Children’s Health Transport Team, told CNN. “The majority … were premature and had ongoing issues. They were easily accommodated to the hospitals here to make sure they had continued care and the storm wasn’t going to be a factor in how they recovered from their illnesses.”

Trump Pardons Former Sheriff Joe Arpaio

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WASHINGTON D.C.  —  President Donald Trump pardoned Joe Arpaio on Friday, sparing the controversial Arizona sheriff a jail sentence after he was convicted of criminal contempt related to his hard-line tactics going after undocumented immigrants.

The move drew outcry from civil rights groups, who accuse Arpaio of violating the Constitution in his crackdown on illegal immigration.

During last year’s presidential campaign, Arpaio was a vocal proponent for Trump’s candidacy, and used his national notoriety to advocate for Trump’s similarly aggressive stance on border security and deportations.

In a brief statement released late Friday evening, the White House praised Arpaio’s career.

“Throughout his time as sheriff, Arpaio continued his life’s work of protecting the public from the scourges of crime and illegal immigration,” the statement read. “Sheriff Joe Arpaio is now 85 years old, and after more than 50 years of admirable service to our nation, he is (a) worthy candidate for a Presidential pardon.”

Arpaio thanked Trump on Twitter.

“Thank you @realdonaldtrump for seeing my conviction for what it is: a political witch hunt by holdovers in the Obama justice department!,” he posted.

Arpaio continued: “I am humbled and incredibly grateful to President Trump. I look fwd to putting this chapter behind me and helping to #MAGA”

Trump did not consult Justice Department

The pardon is the first of Trump’s presidency, though he did not follow his predecessors’ practice of consulting with lawyers at the Justice Department before announcing his decision.

“This is the President’s pardon,” a source with knowledge of the decision said.

Under the Constitution, Trump is permitted wide leeway in issuing pardons. There are no requirements for consultation within the administration before a decision is announced.

“The President exercised his lawful authority and we respect his decision,” said Ian Prior, a Justice Department spokesman.

Trump hinted at his decision earlier this week during a raucous campaign rally held in Phoenix.

“So was Sheriff Joe was convicted for doing his job?” Trump queried his supporters. “I’ll make a prediction. I think he’s going to be just fine, OK.”

Groups criticize decision

Arpaio, who was sheriff in Maricopa County, Arizona, until last year, was found guilty of criminal contempt last month for disregarding a court order in a racial profiling case. His sentencing had been scheduled for October 5.

“Not only did (Arpaio) abdicate responsibility, he announced to the world and to his subordinates that he was going to continue business as usual no matter who said otherwise,” US District Judge Susan Bolton wrote in a July 31 order finding him guilty.

However, civil rights groups and others pushed back against the possibility of Arpaio’s pardon, and slammed the decision on Friday.

“Once again, the president has acted in support of illegal, failed immigration enforcement practices that target people of color and have been struck down by the courts,” the American Civil Liberties Union wrote in a statement. “His pardon of Arpaio is a presidential endorsement of racism.”

“Joe Arpaio illegally targeted and terrorized Latino families. Our community voted him out of power. Donald Trump can’t change that, wrote Greg Stanton, the Democratic mayor of Phoenix, which sits in Maricopa County.

Even Arizona GOP Sen. Jeff Flake wrote on Twitter that he would have “preferred that the President honor the judicial process and let it take its course.”

Trump has openly feuded with Flake over the past week.

Former sheriff had questioned Obama birth record

Arpaio, who has called himself “America’s toughest sheriff,” was an early Trump supporter. Like Trump, he helped fuel unfounded allegations that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States. He used frequent appearances on television to establish a national platform for his views on immigration, which relied on tough enforcement measures and racial profiling.

He became known for his treatment of those he held in an outdoor jail or “Tent City,” where he made people wear pink underwear and work in chain gangs.

Trump’s pardon of Arpaio is the earliest a president has pardoned someone in his first term since George H.W. Bush pardoned nine individuals on August 14, 1989.

Bill Clinton waited almost two years before issuing a pardon. George W. Bush and Barack Obama both waited about a year.

Iowans Head to Texas for Hurricane Harvey Relief

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  Hurricane Harvey, which has strengthened to a category four storm, will make landfall on Friday, and a group of Iowans will be there ready to help with recovery when the storm hits.

Heavy winds and rain rock parts of south Texas as the hurricane moves closer and people living on the coast decide whether they want to leave the area. At the same time, Greater Iowa American Red Cross volunteers are preparing to head down and lend a hand.

“We’re sending down from Dubuque, from Waterloo, we're sending these teams down of two people each in these emergency response vehicles full of these supplies," said Mark Tauscheck of the Red Cross.

Seven volunteers, including longtime volunteer Joe Vich, are heading to one of 17 shelters throughout south Texas.

“It really feels good to be a part of this. Iowa people give back generously, I mean we really do come from a state that's generous and hardworking," Vich said.

Stocking one of the American Red Cross' emergency response trucks costs $2,500 a day, but Iowa volunteers say this is a small price to pay to help people in need.

Dangerous Hurricane Harvey Hours From Landfall, Upgraded to Category 4 Storm

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TEXAS  —  [Breaking news update, published at 7:06 p.m. ET] 

Hurricane Harvey, just hours from making landfall on the Texas coast, has intensified into a Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph, the National Hurricane Center said in a 7 p.m. ET update.

[Breaking news update, published at 7 p.m. ET]

Rockport, Texas, officials are advising residents who refuse to evacuate to write their names and Social Security number on a forearm, Mayor Pro Tem Patrick Rios told CNN. Rios said it will “help out first responders should they find a body.”

[Previous story, published at 6:43 p.m. ET]

The outer bands of Harvey began to pummel the Texas coast Friday as one of the most powerful hurricanes in years moved closer to landfall and threatened to douse as much as 40 inches of rain on residents in some areas along the Gulf of Mexico.

Harvey, a Category 3 hurricane, was expected to make landfall by early Saturday, but the heavy rains and strong storm surge that worry forecasters and government officials arrived during the afternoon.

The combination of wind and water could leave wide swaths of South Texas “uninhabitable for weeks or months,” the National Weather Service in Houston said.

Such daunting language hasn’t been seen by CNN’s experts since Hurricane Katrina, which left more than 1,800 people dead in 2005.

Harvey strengthened to a major hurricane Friday afternoon, with maximum sustained winds reaching 125 mph. The storm is expected to make landfall around Corpus Christi.

A hurricane warning is in effect for about 1.5 million people, with another 16 million under a tropical storm warning, the weather service said.

“Texas is about to have a very significant disaster,” said Brock Long, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Gov. Greg Abbott warned of record-setting flooding and called on people to flee the area before the storm hits.

“My top goal is to be able to make it through this storm in a way in which we lose no lives,” Abbott said. “Put your life first and your property second.”


Residents were urged to evacuate. A mass exodus from the coast caused extensive traffic jams along the state’s highways, while other people boarded up windows and stocked up on food and water ahead of the storm, the effects of which are expected to last for days.

The storm will stall and dump rain on South Texas and parts of Louisiana into the middle of next week, forecasters predicted.

“All indications from the hurricane center are that this is going to be the first major hurricane the nation has dealt with since 2005,” Long said.

Latest developments

— Harvey strengthened to a Category 3 hurricane with winds up to 125 mph.

— The NWS in Corpus Christi issued an extreme wind warning for portions of the coast through 7 p.m. in Texas. “Widespread destructive winds of 115 to 145 mph will produce swaths of tornado-like damage,” the agency said.

— Texas’ governor requested additional federal help with a presidential disaster declaration. The White House is considering the declaration.

— The White House said President Donald Trump plans to visit Texas next week.

— “We are prepared; we are not panicking,” Galveston Mayor James Yarbrough said.

— The ports of Corpus Christi and Galveston are closed. Three Galveston-based cruise ships in the Gulf of Mexico diverted to safer water.

FEMA prepared for ‘significant disaster’

Those who stay should “elevate and get into a structure that can withstand potentially Category 3 winds from a hurricane,” said Long, the FEMA director.

“The bottom line message is, right now, if people have not heeded the warning, again, their window to do so is closing,” Long said. “If they refuse to heed the warning, that’s on them.”

Long said he is “very worried” about storm surge, or “wind-driven water,” slamming coastal areas, saying it has the “highest potential to kill the most amount of people and cause the most amount of damage.”

“Over the next five days, we’re going to see copious amounts of rainfall, up to 25 inches, possibly, in some areas, with isolated higher amounts,” he said. “This is going to be a slow-developing major disaster event for the state of Texas.”

FEMA has pre-positioned incident management teams, as well as life-saving and life-sustaining commodities, and search-and-rescue teams in Texas, Long said.

Trump tweeted that he has spoken with the governors of Texas and Louisiana, saying he is “closely monitoring Hurricane Harvey developments and here to assist as needed.”

Abbott requested a presidential disaster declaration, which triggers additional help from the federal government.

White House homeland security adviser Thomas Bossert said the declaration is “being contemplated.”

“I would stress that this is a serious storm,” Bossert said. “This could remain a dangerous storm for several days.”

Record flooding expected

Officials worried that Harvey’s abundant rain will drench Texas and the region for several days.

“We could see this storm park for almost five days in some places, and we hear three feet of rain,” said Bill Read, the former director of the National Hurricane Center. “That’s just going to be a huge problem for these areas.”

Abbott said the state could see record-setting flooding from Corpus Christi to Houston. He encouraged residents to leave now before it’s too late.

“This is going to be a very major disaster,” he said.

“The water is going to be the issue,” Corpus Christi Mayor Joe McComb said. “We’ve never had anything like this.”

Harvey is also causing concern in New Orleans, where heavy rain could usher in as much as 20 inches of rain through early next week and overwhelm the city’s already-compromised drainage system.

Storm nears shore

Bands of rain and wind began to reach the Texas shoreline on Friday afternoon.

Joey Walker, 25, works with the Galveston Island Beach Patrol and is riding out the storm from a house on Galveston Island. He posted video of near-white out conditions overlooking Stewart Beach.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said anyone not leaving should plan to stay off the roads once the storm starts.

“People need to know, this is not a one-, two-day event and done,” Turner said. “Even though it may seem like it will get better, this is a four- or five-day event, starting tomorrow evening, going through Monday or Tuesday.”

‘I’m trying to be strong’

The threat of Harvey became evident Thursday when several coastal Texas counties issued evacuation orders, leading to hordes of residents sitting bumper to bumper for miles.

Rose Yepez told CNN it took her twice as long as usual to drive 140 miles from Corpus Christi to San Antonio, en route to Texas Hill Country.

Private vehicles — along with city buses packed with adults and children carrying backpacks — jammed roads for hours.

“I’m shaking inside, but for them, I’m trying to be strong,” a Corpus Christi woman who was waiting with her two daughters to board a bus out of town told CNN affiliate KRIS.

Workers at 39 offshore petroleum production platforms and an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico also evacuated Thursday, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said.

First responders such as Brittany Fowler stayed behind and waited for the storm.

“Hopefully it doesn’t do any damage, but if it does, we’ve prepared,” Fowler, a firefighter in Corpus Christi, wrote on Instagram.

Fowler’s family helped by boarding up windows and doors at her home, and she bought plenty of water, food and a small power generator.

Despite the warnings, Elsie and David Reichenbacher prepped supplies and plan to stay put in Corpus Christi.

“I’ve gone through a lot of hurricanes. I’ve lived here most of my life,” Elsie Reichenbacher said. “I’d rather take care of my home and my animals and be safe here. I’m on high ground with my house.”