The View landed a spicy guest for the first episode of its 24th season on Tuesday when former White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders joined the five co-hosts to talk about her new book, Speaking for Myself: Faith, Freedom, and the Fight of Our Lives Inside the Trump White House.
And it couldn’t have come at a more fraught moment for her former boss.
The first question for Huckabee Sanders went to Meghan McCain, who found herself once again in the middle of the latest Trump scandal after new reporting about the president’s alleged disparaging remarks about the military, including her father, the late Sen. John McCain.
After explaining that her “first instinct” was to question the anonymous sources who told The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg that Trump called U.S. troops “losers” and “suckers”—and complaining that her family “deserved a heads-up” about the article—McCain said, “The problem as I said before is the president has a pattern of saying incendiary things about people like my father, about people like the Khan family, about people like Col. Vindman.”
“I think if this charge had been leveled anonymously against any other politician, I think people would second-guess it,” she continued. “But because it’s about someone who has this kind of record of insulting veterans, people tend to believe it, which is why I think it has legs. So I just want your perspective on it and I want to know if you understand my and other people’s perspective on it.”
As she has done before, Huckabee Sanders insisted that she has never witnessed President Donald Trump be anything but respectful towards the military. “After spending nearly every single day for two-and-a-half years with the president I can tell you I witnessed firsthand the president’s respect and admiration for the men and women of our armed forces.”
In regards to the allegations in The Atlantic article, the ex-flack—who once admitted to investigators that she lied to journalists about FBI agents supposedly cheering James Comey’s firing—added, “I was one of the few in the room. I’m not an anonymous source. I’m going on the record and I’m telling you it didn’t happen. That’s not who this president is, and that’s not how he feels about the men and women in our military.”
Later in the interview, Joy Behar got Huckabee Sanders to admit that she was not standing at Gen. John Kelly’s son’s gravesite when Trump allegedly remarked to him, “I don’t get it. What was in it for them?”
Eventually, McCain took over the interview once more to confront Huckabee Sanders more directly about the various ways President Trump insulted her father over the years.
“The problem is, Sarah, you were serving in the White House when President Trump decided to not have the flags raised when my father passed, which had very great outrage,” McCain said. “You also probably know that I have spoken with President Trump on the phone in the past about issues like this. I think he’s aware that there has been serious damage done by the criticism not only by my family, because it’s not just about my family, but like I said, about the Khans and Col. Vindman.”
“The problem with the story is it seems like something he would do,” she continued. “And I don’t doubt that you’ve had experiences and I’ve seen videos with President Trump and troops and his family. But this has not been my experience. For me and my brothers who serve, we do not feel respected. We’re a military family that doesn’t feel respected by this president.”
“I understand you have to do a job because you are his surrogate and you are his supporter,” McCain concluded. “But at least concede that it has to be very uncomfortable to have this kind of conversation with me right now.”
“Certainly, I don’t doubt that at all,” Huckabee Sanders said before chalking up Trump’s comments about McCain to a simple political rivalry and nothing more.
“There’s no denying the fact that not only did Donald Trump dislike your father, your father disliked the president,” she said. “They had some very heated exchanges.”
“I’m not saying that there weren’t some moments that were heated, that were not of the highest level of respect, but when it comes to who this president is at his heart and how he feels about the men and women of our armed services, I can say for my own experience he has a great level of respect,” Huckabee Sanders repeated.
But it was Whoopi Goldberg who got the last word on the subject.
“And I can say from my experience having watched him over and over and over, I totally disagree with you,” she replied.