White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and her father, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, were grilled by the co-hosts of ABC’s “The View” on Wednesday over President Donald Trump’s comments about women, his relationship with the truth, and his handling of Hurricane Harvey, among other topics.
“Who approved you coming here, the Mooch?” co-host Joy Behar jokingly asked at the start of the interview, mentioning former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci. “Is that why he got fired?”
The first contentious topic the panel broached was Trump’s past controversial comments toward women.
“Trump, the things he says about women are just horrendous, and we all know that so let’s not pretend that he hasn’t said some horrifying things about women,” Behar said, asking Huckabee how he can let his daughter “defend him.”
Huckabee said Trump has “also empowered women” and gave his daughter “an incredible opportunity.” Huckabee, the former Republican governor and presidential candidate, said Trump gave women opportunities both in the private sector and within the White House.
Confronted about allegations of racist behaviour by Trump, Huckabee said Trump “opened up Mar-a-Lago to Jewish people when they had been shut out” in addition to hiring black Americans to work for the Trump Organisation.
Huckabee added that if he “didn’t have some confidence in” Trump’s integrity, he wouldn’t let his daughter serve him.
Sanders was then asked if she has struggled with Trump’s past comments, and if they have made it more difficult for her to defend Trump as a person.
“I’ve spent a lot of time with the president,” she said. “I’ve never felt anything but respected and empowered to do exactly what I’m there to do every day, and that is my job. I think he’s an equal opportunity president, he hits men just as hard. Women want equal opportunity, and this president certainly gives it to them one by empowering them to take senior level positions … he doesn’t just put milquetoast women around him. He puts very strong, very outspoken women in very powerful positions.”
She made mention of the fact the she and interim White House communications director Hope Hicks are the first female press secretary/communications director combination to work together in a White House.
Huckabee was then pressed about how religious Americans, particularly evangelicals such as himself, can support Trump.
“It’s not that difficult because nobody voted for him to be their Sunday school teacher,” Huckabee said. “He’s a defender of religious liberty, which means he doesn’t have to embrace everything that I personally embrace in order to believe that people of faith should be respected, and that they should not be relegated to a portion of the culture.”
The conversation then took a turn into Trump’s tumultuous relationship with the media, which he regularly admonishes. After Sanders went on an extended rant about how, while the White House has responsibilities to uphold, the media needs to do a better job of presenting the facts, co-host Whoopi Goldberg said “you also have to get someone in the office who recognises what the truth is.”
“Where was President Obama born and is he an American citizen?” Goldberg asked, making note of the birther conspiracy that alleged former President Barack Obama was not born in the US.
Trump was the most prominent of the birther conspiracists.
“I think this has been pretty well addressed,” Sanders said.
Goldberg replied, “But this narrative, this is what I’m talking about, that’s a narrative that went on for forever, and he didn’t really clear it up until he was in office.”
Later in the discussion, Huckabee was asked about Trump’s pardon of former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted of criminal contempt for ignoring a court order to stop racial profiling of Latinos. Arpaio became a notorious figure over the more than two decades he spent leading the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, which is perhaps best known for keeping inmates in a “tent city” jail under inhumane conditions. He once called the sweltering open-air facility a “concentration camp.”
“I know Joe Arpaio, I do not agree that he’s a racist,” Huckabee said. “I don’t agree with that. I don’t.”
Huckabee said Arpaio is “an 85-year-old man” who “has enforced the law in his county.”
When one co-host pointed out that “several judges disagree,” Huckabee said “we’re in a country where everybody disagrees.”
“I can’t hardly find agreement from within my own family sometimes, it’s so divided and polarised,” he said.
Discussing Trump’s response to Hurricane Harvey, Huckabee added that “there’s so much Trump hate, that if he took a drinking straw and sucked out every drop of flood water from Houston and spit it out into the Gulf of Mexico, they would have said he should spit it into the Indian Ocean.”
“He created that,” Behar responded.
Watch parts of the interview below:
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