JERUSALEM – For the past four years, Mike Huckabee has been one of President Donald Trump’s most loyal friends and confidantes.
The former governor of Arkansas and two-time presidential candidate endorsed Trump in 2016 and 2020. He spoke out regularly in defense of Trump. His daughter – Sarah Huckabee Sanders – served as press secretary in the Trump White House (and has just announced she is running to be the first woman Governor of Arkansas, something we discussed at the beginning of our interview.)
How, then, does Huckabee see the final days of the Trump presidency?
What is his advice to Evangelicals, many of whom feel the election was stolen from Trump, and others of whom are deeply disappointed with Trump’s words and actions in his last months in office?
What does Huckabee think were Trump’s most important accomplishments in Israel and the Arab world?
How should Evangelicals prepare themselves for the next four years?
What are his concerns about a Biden presidency?
These are some of the questions I asked Gov. Huckabee a few days ago, because he is a member of the ALL ISRAEL NEWS advisory Board.
His answers may surprise you.
Here are a few tidbits from our conversation, but I encourage you to watch the 29-minute interview in its entirety.
CANDID COMMENTS FROM A LEADING EVANGELICAL
Huckabee told me he remains “a loyal friend and supporter of President Trump,” but in a frank and wide-ranging interview with me, this major Evangelical leader was candid about the mistakes Trump made in office.
“I felt like the last four weeks had sullied the previous four years,” Huckabee told me, from Trump taking so long to finally concede the race to the “tragic events” of Jan. 6.
He said he was “not abandoning ship,” but added, “I felt that the tragedy was that a legacy of accomplishing more than any other president in my lifetime…was being overshadowed by his having handed his enemies – his true enemies, people who hated him – a weapon that was unfortunate.”
Huckabee said the controversy over the election “was a legitimate controversy” and said “there remains sincere questions about the anomalies and irregularities of the election” that deeply bothers him and many Trump supporters.
But Trump’s “stunning list of accomplishments” – including recognizing Jerusalem as the eternal capital of Israel, moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, brokering four Arab-Israeli peace accords, pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal – “was all forgotten in the last four weeks because he gave the media and his opponents so many ways to deflect away from the accomplishments.”
While he said that some of the mob that stormed the Capitol were definitely not Trump supporters, and some may have been Antifa member, he also conceded that some were.
“Let’s be crystal clear: There were Trump supporters who were a part of the vandalism, the violence, the mob action, and that is inexcusable,” Huckabee said. “It’s criminal. It’s thuggish. It’s anarchy. And I gave no quarter to those people who did this.”
He said anyone who wanted the violent mobs in Portland, Minneapolis, Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago, New York, Atlanta and many other cities “have to be consistent” and demand the prosecution of all who stormed the Capitol.
INSISTS: NO CONSTITUTIONAL BASIS FOR IMPEACHMENT
That said, Huckabee was adamant that “President Trump did not incite that riot” and that Trump said nothing to call for violence or a physical attack against the Capitol.
Huckabee also argued that a Senate trial of the president would be unconstitutional because the remedy for impeaching a sitting president is to remove that president from office, and Trump is already out of office.
He urged Trump’s legal team to “ask for a dismissal.”
Two Constitutional scholars – Alan Dershowitz and Jonathan Turley, both liberals, and both Democrats – have argued strenuously that there is not legal basis for the Senate trying Trump since he is no longer a sitting president.
URGES BIDEN TO REJECT IMPEACHMENT
If President Joe Biden truly meant what he said during his inaugural address about unifying the nation, he would encourage Democrats in the Senate to drop the “unconstitutional” impeachment trial against the former president, Huckabee told me.
“This is political theater,” he said of the upcoming trial, slated to begin Feb. 8.
“And the worst is, Joe Biden should be the one who publicly says to the Senate, ‘Stop this nonsense. I’m trying to bring the country together. This only further divides us. It’s an insult to the 74 million people who voted for President Trump.’”
House Democrats – and 10 House Republicans – accuse Trump of inciting the violence in his speech that day.
ADVICE TO EVANGELICALS ARE STRUGGLING WITH THE TRUMP LEGACY
I spoke with Huckabee about a poll that came out after these events, indicating that some Evangelical voters became disenchanted with Trump in his waning days in office.
The survey – first published by ALL ISRAEL NEWS – revealed that 36% of Evangelicals believe the House of Representatives was right to impeach Trump, and that 42% of Evangelicals disapproved of Trump’s performance as he departed office.
Huckabee defended President Trump’s legacy of tax cuts for Americans, historic Middle East peace deals and pro-Israel policies, however, and offered hope.
“I try to remind people is that it's always appropriate and it’s biblically centered to be able to separate the the individual from the work or the deeds of the individual,” he said. “God has always used flawed people.”
Huckabee warned Evangelicals about the next four years.
“We need to buckle up. We’re in for a rough ride,” he said.
Why exactly? What is Huckabee worried about when it comes to the Biden presidency?
Watch the full video of part 1 of our conversation to find out.
Joel C. Rosenberg is the editor-in-chief of ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and the President and CEO of Near East Media. A New York Times best-selling author, Middle East analyst, and Evangelical leader, he lives in Jerusalem with his wife and sons.