Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee said on “Fox & Friends” Monday that a leaked bombshell excerpt from former National Security Adviser John Bolton’s forthcoming book “is more about book sales than it is about getting at the truth.”
The excerpt was published in The New York Times on Sunday, where the newspaper exclusively reported that Bolton's manuscript included a claim that Trump explicitly linked a hold on Ukraine aid to an investigation of Joe and Hunter Biden. According to a transcript of Bolton's forthcoming book reviewed by the Times, Trump told Bolton in August "that he wanted to continue freezing $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine until officials there helped with investigations into Democrats including the Bidens."
Huckabee, a Fox News contributor, said that he thinks the timing of the leak couldn't have been a coincidence.
“The New York Times, which can't find real news if they tried, they always seem to find these leaks,” Huckabee said on Monday. “They ought to open a plumbing business because nobody is better at leaks than the ‘New York Slimes,’ as I like to call them and have for a long time.”
Trump refuted Bolton's claims on Twitter on Sunday.
“The president’s been very transparent, very clear about what he said, when he said it and to whom he said it, and I don't think there's any big revelations coming out,” Huckabee said. “And the fact is the Ukrainians got the money that they wanted, they got a heck of a lot more than they got from the previous administration, who gave them blankets and MRE's [Meals Ready to Eat]. That was all they ever got.”
“I'm not sure what the fuss is about. I just have to believe that this is a lot of 'manufactured crisis,' as some Democrats might use the term,” he continued.
In the coming days, the Senate is expected to vote on whether Trump’s trial will permit any witnesses. Democrats want to hear from witnesses including Bolton, who said earlier this month that he would testify should he be subpoenaed by the Senate.
Speaking at a news conference in Davos, Switzerland Wednesday, Trump said Bolton‘s potential testimony could pose "a national security problem.”
“The problem with hearing from Bolton is not so much about what he says, but the fact that he was a confidant at the highest level of national security,” Huckabee said on “Fox & Friends.”
“People need to remember that the issue of having -- whether it's John Bolton or [Acting White House Chief of Staff] Mick Mulvaney -- the president has a right to have the inner circle of his brain trust around him without the fear that the other branch of government is going to come in and pry information out of him, which would, in the corporate world, be proprietary. But in this sense it's still about executive privilege.”
Huckabee then refuted the claim from some Democrats that executing executive privilege is a “cover-up.”
“It's not even protecting President Trump, it's protecting the institution of the presidency, no matter who is president, so that president, future, whenever, will be able to talk with his senior aides without fearing that it's going to be printed in the New York Times,” Huckabee said. “If anybody is leaking information, be it John Bolton or others, I think that's an integrity issue for them.”
“You don't go out and tell what you know if you've been put in an entrusted position,” he continued. “It's just an important matter of national security and executive privilege and every president, I don't care who he is, has the right to have that.”
Huckabee added that “one of the most disgusting and frankly dishonorable things that has happened to this president has been people who are willing to take a paycheck from him but could not be loyal, and in fact were doing everything they can to undermine him.”
“People like that shouldn't be listened to,” he said.
Fox News’ Gregg Re and Gillian Turner contributed to this report.