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11 Times Sarah Huckabee Sanders Was Just Plain Terrible
The Terrible Sarah Huckabee Sanders: A Lying Homophobe and More
Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, set to give the Republican response to President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address Tuesday night, is touting herself as part of a “new generation of leaders” for her party. She may be fairly young — 40 — but her ideology is same old, same old. She’s embraced all the Republican far-right positions, and she has a legacy of defending and lying for Donald Trump as his White House press secretary. Read on for a look at the most egregious aspects of Sanders’s record.
A Warrior Against Marriage Equality
In 2013, she was executive director of the American Principles Fund, which attacked Liz Cheney, then running in Wyoming’s Republican primary for U.S. Senate, as insufficiently opposed to marriage equality. “The unilateral truce on social issues within the GOP is bad for our party and wrong for our country — our core values are under attack, and we will stand for those who stand for what’s right,” Sanders said in a statement at the time. She also lambasted some other Republicans for “taking the wrong side” on marriage. For the record, Cheney was opposed to marriage equality, engaging in a public feud with her lesbian sister, Mary, over the issue; Liz has since reversed her position. Liz Cheney eventually dropped out of the Senate primary but was elected to the U.S. House in 2016.
Lying to Justify Trump's Trans Military Ban
In 2017, as Trump’s press secretary, she lied in an effort to justify the transgender military ban he’d just announced on Twitter. “This is a very expensive and disruptive policy, and based on consultations he’s had with his national security team came to the conclusion that it erodes military readiness and cohesion and made the decision based on that,” she told reporters. Actually, allowing trans troops to serve openly isn’t expensive at all, and military leaders were totally surprised by Trump’s announcement.
That same year, she stood up for the Trump administration’s position that it was OK for businesses to deny service to customers who offended their religious beliefs. That was when the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, involving the shop’s refusal to create a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, had just been argued at the Supreme Court. “The lawyer for the solicitor general’s office for the administration said today in the Supreme Court if it would be legal, possible for a baker to put a sign in his window saying we don’t bake cakes for gay weddings,” A New York Times reporter asked her at the press briefing. “Does the president agree that that would be OK?” When pressed, she admitted, “I believe that would include that.” But the following year, she wasn’t OK with a Virginia restaurant owner’s decision not to serve her because of her anti-LGBTQ+ positions.
Lying About Trump's Comey Firing
In another 2017 action, she lied in saying that “countless members of the FBI” supported Trump’s firing of the agency’s director, James Comey. But two years later, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report revealed there was no such support and that Trump made the decision largely on his own. “Sanders told this Office that her reference to hearing from ‘countless members of the FBI’ was a ‘slip of the tongue,’” the report read. It continued, “She also recalled that her statement in a separate press interview that rank-and-file FBI agents had lost confidence in Comey was a comment she made ‘in the heat of the moment’ that was not founded on anything.”
Separating Families Is Biblical
Sanders was quick to defend her boss’s policy of separating migrant families, even saying it was justified by the Bible, resulting in a dust-up with CNN’s Jim Acosta. In a June 2018 press conference, Acosta brought up a comment by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions about the biblical rationale, and Sanders said she agreed: “I can say that it is very biblical to enforce the law. That is actually repeated a number of times throughout the Bible.” Acosta kept up the pressure, saying, “It’s a policy to take children away from their parents. Can you imagine the horror these children must be going to, when they come across the border, they’re with their parents and suddenly they’re pulled away from their parents? Why is government doing this?” Sanders blamed it all on the Democrats, as she said they have “failed to help this president close these loopholes” that she said caused the border crisis.
Tarring Reporter Jim Acosta
In November 2018, she shared a misleadingly edited video from the infamous conspiracy-minded site Infowars to make it look like Acosta had struck a White House intern — and therefore deserved to have his press credential revoked. “The video tweeted by Ms. Sanders makes it appear that Mr. Acosta is making forceful, sustained contact with the intern’s arm,” The New York Times reported. “The Infowars video also has no sound, so that Mr. Acosta’s ‘pardon me’ is not heard.” Hany Farid, an expert on analyzing video edits, told the Times, “If you look at original, higher-quality videos from other vantage points, you can more clearly see that while there was some contact between the reporter and intern, he did not strike her as his hand comes down.”
God Wanted Trump to Be President
There’s no way to fact-check this without a direct line to the Almighty, but Sanders said in 2019 that Trump was president because God wanted him to be. “I think God calls all of us to fill different roles at different times, and I think that he wanted Donald Trump to become president,” she told the Christian Broadcasting Network. “And that’s why he’s there, and I think he has done a tremendous job in supporting a lot of the things that people of faith really care about.”
Getting Roasted by Chris Wallace on Terrorists and the Border
In 2019, even the Fox News Channel didn’t buy Sanders’s claim that terrorists were streaming into the U.S. via the border with Mexico. Trump was pushing for more funds for his border wall, but when Sanders went on Fox News Sunday to promote the idea of the border threat, host Chris Wallace called her on it. “We know that roughly nearly 4,000 known or suspected terrorists come into our country illegally, and we know that our most vulnerable point of entry is at our southern border,” Sanders said. Wallace replied, “Wait, wait, ’cause I know the statistic. I didn’t know if you were going to use it, but I studied up on this. Do you know where those 4,000 people come or where they’re captured? Airports.”
Making Fun of a Stutterer
Commenting on a Democratic presidential debate in December 2019, Sanders, by then no longer Trump’s press secretary, was still giving offense. She sent out a tweet that clearly made fun of Biden for stuttering. “I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I hhhave absolutely no idea what Biden is talking about,” she wrote of the candidate, who had demonstrated the stutter he had overcome and mentioned other stutterers he had offered support to. She got taken to task for the tweet, deleted it, and claimed she wasn’t lampooning a speech impediment, just saying she didn’t get Biden’s point. Biden himself tweeted, “It’s called empathy. Look it up.” Then she finally apologized.
Pushing a Far-Right Agenda in Arkansas
As governor of Arkansas, a position once held by her father, Mike Huckabee, Sanders has continued to push a far-right agenda and demonize those who disagree. On her first day in office, January 10, she ordered a review of state education policies just in case any “promote teaching that would indoctrinate students with ideologies, such as [critical race theory],” which she said should be forbidden. Critical race theory has become a popular target of right-wingers who may not even know what it means, and they’ve made the phrase “a catchall for any policy or lesson that deals with systemic racism,” The Washington Post notes. She also banned the use of the term “Latinx” in official state documents.
Still Attacking the LGBTQ+ Community
Sarah Huckabee Sanders and husband Bryan Chatfield Sanders
The new governor has endorsed anti-LGBTQ+ legislation pending in Arkansas. In late January, she said she would sign a bill classifying drag performances as adult businesses — the same category as escort services or theaters that show erotic films. The bill has passed the Senate and awaits action in the House; after the Senate vote, she said the legislation “will protect the children of Arkansas.” She has also pledged to sign a bill that would bar transgender students from using the school restrooms and changing rooms corresponding to their gender identity. It has passed the House and is pending in the Senate.