"Rick Perry used to have the best political instincts," Stanford said. "He was the first politician to get in front of the parade of the tea party, when other big Republican politicians were scared of it. None of us got it at the time, and it was genius."
"Joining the Trump administration was as dumb as that was smart," Stanford said.
But University of Houston political scientist Brandon Rottinghaus, who is working on a book about Perry, said that Perry "believes Trump to be the future of the party" and that his decision to join the Cabinet "means he's thinking about something bigger down the road, because he's always done that."
Perry for president in 2024?
"Things change quickly, and he's young enough that it's feasible, given that the party's going to have to find a footing after Trump but cannot fully abandon Trump, so somebody who's got a footing in both camps probably is going to look pretty good," Rottinghaus said.
And yet, he said, "of all the Trump scandals, the fact that Perry was involved in the one that might be the impeachable offense is clearly a bad outcome for Perry. Obviously, it's a less than stellar way to end a term in office and potentially a career."
"None of us got here by accident," Perry said in an interview with Ed Henry on Fox News that aired last weekend. "I'm a big believer that the God of our universe is still very active in the details of the day-to-day lives of government. You know, Barack Obama didn't get to be the president of the United States without being ordained by God. Neither did Donald Trump.
"God's used imperfect people all through history. King David wasn't perfect, Saul wasn't perfect. Solomon wasn't perfect," Perry said. "And I actually gave the president a little one pager on those Old Testament kings about a month ago, and I shared it with him. I said, 'Mr. President, I know ... you said you were the chosen one. You were."
Perry's comments came even as he has been circumstantially implicated in Trump's efforts to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to publicly initiate an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, who was on the board of the Ukrainian gas company Burisma, in exchange for an Oval Office visit and delivery of American weaponry to defend against the Russians.
In testimony at a Nov. 21 House Intelligence Committee impeachment hearing, Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, described himself, former special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker and Perry as the president's "three amigos" of Ukraine policy under the ostensible direction of Rudy Giuliani.