Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee is in Israel this week on an "Israel Experience With Mike Huckabee" tour and held a press conference with reporters in which he slammed Democratic senators for supporting Chuck Hagel and doubted whether or not Hagel would be confirmed.
The trip is one of several that Huckabee has taken to Israel. He was supposed to be accompanied by Tony Orlando, Maurice Sklar, Larry Gatlin, and Jeff Bennett, but Orlando dropped out at the last minute.
"I think it's very much in question whether Chuck Hagel will be confirmed," Huckabee said according to a recording of his press conference made available to BuzzFeed by Lone Star, the P.R. firm that works with Huckabee on his Israel trips and has represented a number of other Israeli and American conservative figures. "I think the testimony of last week is extraordinalrly problematic for many Democratic senators."
Hagel's performance during his confirmation was hearing, and a handful of Republican senators have said that they will try to block the nomination.
But Huckabee, who has proved resistant to completely fading out of the spotlight since his failed presidential run in 2008, said those who would bear the brunt of the blowback if Hagel is confirmed would be Democratic Jewish senators.
"If you're Chuck Schumer, if you're Carl Levin and you're a Democrat with a strong conection to the Jewish community, how can you possibly vote for Chuck Hagel and ever have credibility ever again with the Jewish community? Or for that matter with the rest of America," Huckabee said.
"If it proves true the rumors of Chuck Hagel's having received funds from Friends of Hamas, if that's true than on its face that would disqualify him," Huckabee said, referring to a rumor that originated on Breitbart.com that Hagel is refusing to turn over foreign financial disclosures because one of the sources is an entity called "Friends of Hamas." (The report has not been confirmed.)
"It's no longer an option whether he discloses all of his financial entanglements; he must," Huckabee said. "Because that rumor, if not true, has to be dispelled. If true it absolutely disqualifies him for any consideration, even so much as to be a gatekeeper at a national park, much less the defense secretary."
Elsewhere in his press conference, Huckabee called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "one of the most popular political figures in the U.S." He also called upon President Obama to pardon Jonathan Pollard, the CIA analyst who was convicted in the 1970s for leaking classified information to Israel.
Rosie Gray is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, D.C. Gray reports on politics and foreign policy.
Contact Rosie Gray at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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