Who Is Sarah Huckabee Sanders? All About the White House Deputy Press Secretary Who's Been Filling In for Sean Spicer
As the press secretary seems to retreat from the spotlight, a new face is appearing to defend the president
Sean Spicer may have been the face of the Trump administration in its early days, but in recent weeks, we’ve been seeing more of his deputy — Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
If her name sounds familiar, there’s a reason: She’s the only daughter of former two-time Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. Sanders has worked on multiple campaigns in the past, including as the national political director for her father in 2008, and as his campaign manager in 2016.
“He’s an amazing politician, but an even better parent,” Sanders told Time of her father. “Every day he challenges me to be a better person and I will forever be grateful for that.”
After Huckabee’s 2016 presidential campaign came to an end, she joined now-President Donald Trump‘s campaign as a senior adviser, eventually gaining the deputy press secretary position in his White House.
Sanders stepped into the spotlight after President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey last Tuesday. The day after the controversial decision was announced, it was Sanders and not Spicer who took the White House press lectern for questions. (The White House said Spicer missed the briefing because he was at the Pentagon for the week, on duty with the Navy Reserve.)
After defending the president’s decision during multiple White House press briefings and in appearances on TV news programs, Sanders earned praise for her for her calm and friendly demeanor, especially when contrasted with Spicer’s often more prickly attitude.
Sanders’ initial rise in air time came just after Trump tweeted that while Barack Obama was president, his administration wiretapped Trump’s phones during the presidential election. Trump offered no evidence for his claims, which he spoke of as facts. At the time, the FBI asked the Justice Department to refute Trump’s allegations. A spokesperson for Obama also denied the allegations. (For the record, Obama seemed unfazed.)
That weekend, it fell to Sanders to defend Trump’s tweets and his call for an investigation into the alleged wiretapping.
On March 5, Sanders sat down for an interview with Martha Raddatz, ABC News’ chief global affairs correspondent. In the interview, Sanders said that Trump simply wanted to find out if there was evidence of wiretapping by the Obama administration — which Raddatz then said was inaccurate, as Trump stated that Obama engaged in wiretapping as fact.
Sanders spoke in the hypotheticals, saying that if Trump’s claims were true, then the alleged wiretapping was “the largest abuse of power that we’ve ever seen.” She also compared the “need” for an investigation into the alleged wiretapping to the FBI investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
The difficulties continued the following day, when Sanders sat down with George Stephanopoulos on Good Morning America. She was rebuked by Stephanopoulos for making false or inaccurate claims several times during the interview.
Trump’s press secretary shot to fame in the early weeks of his presidency, even earning himself a parody on Saturday Night Live, courtesy of Melissa McCarthy, which has continued in recent weeks.
However, reports have surfaced in The New York Times that Trump is none too pleased with Spicer, and the buzz continues to circulate. Spicer, the former communications director of the Republican National Committee, is undeniably a Washington insider — the kind of person Trump said he didn’t want in his administration throughout his campaign of “drain the swamp” rhetoric.
During the first weekend of Trump’s presidency, Spicer held a soon-to-be controversial first press briefing, in which he falsely claimed that Trump’s inauguration was the best-attended in history.
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In March, the hosts of Fox & Friends asked Trump to give himself a grade on the job he’d done so far while in office. He gave himself an A+ for effort, an A for achievement, but just a C or C+ in terms of messaging, saying bluntly that it “isn’t good.”
He seemed to put the blame more on the shoulders of the administration’s chief messenger, Spicer, than on himself. Trump also said that he would have “handled” the search for leakers in his department differently than Spicer did. (Politico reported that Spicer reacted by asking communications staffers to turn over their phones.)
Most recently, The New York Times reported that Trump is considering his biggest team shake-up yet — which could include replacing Spicer with Fox News host Kimberly Guilfoyle.