Sarah Huckabee Sanders
|Sarah Huckabee Sanders|
|29th White House Press Secretary|
Assumed office |
July 26, 2017
|Preceded by||Sean Spicer|
|White House Deputy Press Secretary|
January 20, 2017 – July 26, 2017
|Preceded by||Eric Schultz|
|Succeeded by||Raj Shah|
Sarah Elizabeth Huckabee|
August 13, 1982
Hope, Arkansas, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Bryan Sanders (m. 2010)|
|Education||Ouachita Baptist University (BA)|
Sarah Elizabeth Huckabee Sanders (born August 13, 1982) is an American campaign manager and political adviser who was appointed as the twenty-ninth White House Press Secretary to President Donald Trump in July 2017.
Early life and education
Sarah Elizabeth Huckabee was born on August 13, 1982, in Hope, Arkansas, the youngest child and only daughter of Mike Huckabee and Janet (née McCain) Huckabee. She has two brothers, John Mark Huckabee and David Huckabee. Following graduation from Little Rock Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, Huckabee attended Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. There, she was elected student body president and was active in Republican organizations. In 2004, she graduated from the university with a Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in political science and minoring in mass communications.
First political engagements
Sanders's introduction to politics began as a child, when her father first ran for the United States Senate in 1992. Describing the unsuccessful campaign to The Hill, she said "He didn't really have much of a staff, so our family has been very engaged and very supportive of my dad. I was stuffing envelopes, I was knocking on doors, I was putting up yard signs." Her father described her childhood, saying, "I always say that when most kids are seven or eight years old out jumping rope, she was sitting at the kitchen table listening to political commentators analyze poll results." Huckabee said that he and his wife spoiled Sarah at times. He called her "doggone tough" and "fearless" due to having grown up with two brothers.
Sanders got her start in politics as a field coordinator for her father's 2002 reelection campaign for Governor of Arkansas. She was a regional liaison for congressional affairs at the U.S. Department of Education under President George W. Bush. She also worked as a field coordinator for President Bush’s re-election campaign in Ohio in 2004.
Sanders is a founding partner of Second Street Strategies in Little Rock, Arkansas, a general consulting services provider for Republican campaigns. She worked on national political campaigns and on campaigns for federal office in Arkansas. Sanders was also vice president of Tsamoutales Strategies. She was national political director for her father's 2008 presidential campaign. She was also a senior adviser to Tim Pawlenty in his 2012 presidential run. She was involved in the campaigns of both U.S. senators from Arkansas, managing John Boozman's 2010 campaign and serving as an adviser to Tom Cotton's 2014 election. After her father's 2008 campaign, she worked as executive director of Huck PAC, a political action committee. She also was national campaign manager for the ONE Campaign, an international organization aimed at ending global poverty and preventable diseases.
In 2016, after managing her father's presidential campaign, she signed on as a senior adviser for Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, handling the Trump campaign's communications for coalitions.
Presidency of Donald Trump
After Donald Trump was elected, Sanders was named to the position of deputy White House press secretary in his new administration. On May 5, 2017, she held her first White House press briefing, standing in for Press Secretary Sean Spicer, who was serving on Naval Reserve duty. She continued to cover for Spicer until his return to the podium on May 12. She stood in for Spicer during the dismissal of James Comey and the controversy following it. Her defense of the Trump administration's actions led to some speculation that President Trump was considering promoting her to replace Spicer. This was refuted at the time by her father, Mike Huckabee. However, on May 26 The Wall Street Journal again suggested that Sanders was being considered as a possible replacement for Spicer, in the context of wider staff changes and the investigation into alleged communications with Russia. She continued to fill in for Spicer occasionally.
After the dismissal of James Comey by President Trump in May 2017, Sanders said that she "heard from countless members of the FBI that are grateful and thankful for the President's decision" to fire the FBI director. However, emails show that several FBI heads of regional field offices and high-ranking FBI members reacted with dismay to Comey's firing. After Trump sought to discredit Comey and the FBI, Sanders was questioned on a tweet she had sent during the 2016 presidential election that "when you're attacking FBI agents because you're under criminal investigation, you're losing". After Comey accused Trump of lying about the circumstances in which Comey was dismissed, Sanders defended Trump: "I can definitively say the president is not a liar and I think it's frankly insulting that question would be asked."
On June 27, during a press briefing, Sanders criticized the media, accusing them of spreading "fake news" against Trump. Sanders cited a video created by James O'Keefe. Although she was unsure of the video's accuracy, she said "I would encourage everyone in this room and, frankly, everybody across the country to take a look at it." The video features CNN's health and medical producer, John Bonifield, saying that CNN's coverage of the Trump campaign's alleged links to Russia are "mostly bullshit" and driven by ratings.
On June 29, 2017, Sanders said during a press briefing that the "president in no way, form or fashion has ever promoted or encouraged violence." However, in February 2016, Trump said during a presidential campaign speech: "So if you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you? ... I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees. I promise." Politifact also "found at least seven other examples in which Trump offered public musings that showed a tolerance for, and sometimes even a favorable disposition toward, physical violence."
On July 21, 2017, following Spicer's announcement that he was going to resign, newly appointed White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci announced that Sanders would take the role of White House press secretary. Sanders is the third woman to hold the role of White House Press Secretary after Dee Dee Myers in 1993 and Dana Perino in 2007.
In August 2017, Sanders said President Trump "certainly didn’t dictate" a statement released by Donald Trump Jr. regarding the 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Russians. Sanders also said that President Trump "weighed in, offered suggestion like any father would do." In January 2018, President Trump's lawyers wrote to the special counsel investigation that "the President dictated" the statement released by Donald Trump, Jr. In June 2018, Sanders was asked by the media to explain the discrepancy in the statements, but she repeatedly refused to answer the question, saying: "I’m not going to respond to a letter from the president’s outside counsel ... We’ve purposefully walled off, and I would refer you to them for comment", as well as also: "I'm an honest person".
In February 2018 when Rob Porter left the White House over domestic abuse allegations, Sanders said that Porter's background check was "ongoing, and the White House had not received any specific papers regarding the completion of that background check". However, after FBI director Christopher Wray testified that the FBI had finished and submitted its security-clearance investigation on Porter to the White House earlier in July 2017, Sanders instead claimed that it was instead the White House's personnel security office's investigation that was ongoing, which contradicted her earlier statement that the clearance process "doesn't operate within the White House". Sanders said that Porter had made a "personal decision" to leave the White House, while White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah said that Porter was "terminated".
In March 2018, Sanders said regarding the Stormy Daniels–Donald Trump scandal "there was no knowledge of any payments from the president" to Daniels. However in May 2018, Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani said that Trump had repaid his lawyer Michael Cohen $130,000 after Cohen paid Daniels. In response to questions regarding the discrepancy, Sanders claimed that she did not know of this development and that her earlier statement was based on the "best information" she had at the time.
In mid-June 2018, when questioned on the Trump administration's immigration policies resulting in the separation of migrant children from their parents at the Mexico–United States border, Sanders blamed "legal loopholes that Democrats refuse to close", but stated that "it is very biblical to enforce the law". Christian leaders such as Daniel DiNardo and Franklin Graham strongly disagreed with the policy, calling it "immoral" or "disgraceful", while Bible scholar and professor Matthew Schlimm said that the Bible was being misused just as slave traders and Nazis had done historically.
In popular culture
Huckabee met her future husband, Bryan Sanders, during her father's 2008 presidential campaign. She was the campaign's field director and Sanders was hired as a media consultant. The couple married in 2010 in Cruz Bay on the island of St. John, part of the U.S. Virgin Islands. They have three children.
On Friday, June 22, 2018, a co-owner of a 26-seat restaurant in Lexington, Virginia, 200 miles from Washington, D.C., asked Sanders to leave the restaurant because Sanders worked for the Trump administration, giving rise to the Red Hen restaurant controversy. Sanders, using her White House Press Secretary Twitter account, named the restaurant that refused to serve her, and former Director of the United States Office of Government Ethics, Walter Shaub said that Sanders had violated ethics laws by "discouraging patronage" and "using her office to get public to pressure it".
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Arkansas-raised, Sanders is married to a Republican consultant and moved her young family to Washington to be part of the administration.
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- Fredericks, Bob. "Sanders: I didn't know about Trump's 'hush money' payment". New York Post. Retrieved June 15, 2018.
- Higgins, Tucker. "White House on separating migrant children from parents: 'It's very biblical to enforce the law'". CNBC. Retrieved June 15, 2018.
- Bendery, Jennifer. "Christian Leaders To Jeff Sessions: The Bible Does Not Justify Separating Families". Huffington Post. Retrieved June 16, 2018.
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- Gstalter, Morgan. "Ex-White House ethics chief: Sarah Sanders tweet violates ethics laws". The Hill. Retrieved 24 June 2018.
- Official Twitter
- Personal Twitter
- Appearances on C-SPAN
- White House Website – Press Briefings
- YouTube – White House Press Briefings
| White House Press Secretary