One of President Trump’s most vocal religious advisers thinks the president deserves to be forgiven for his affair with adult film actress Stormy Daniels — even, apparently, if Trump never asks for it in the first place.
During a Fox News interview on Thursday evening, pastor Robert Jeffress — a Southern Baptist who leads First Baptist Church in Dallas and serves as an evangelical adviser to the president — said he doesn’t think evangelicals should think twice about continuing to support the president, as more details trickle out about a $130,000 hush payment Trump’s personal lawyer paid to Stormy Daniels just days before the 2016 election.
Jeffress describes allegations that evangelicals are being hypocrites as “absolutely ludicrous,” adding that “evangelicals know they are not compromising their beliefs in order to support this great president.”
“And let’s be clear — Evangelicals still believe in the commandment: Thou shalt not have sex with a porn star,” Jeffress continued. “However, whether this president violated that commandment or not is totally irrelevant to our support of him.”
Jeffress went on to say that evangelicals “knew they weren’t voting for an altar boy when they voted for Donald Trump. We supported him for his policies and his strong leadership.” He added that evangelicals “understand the concept of sin and forgiveness.”
But Trump has never asked for forgiveness. In fact, Trump has said through a spokesperson that he “absolutely, unequivocally” has never had an affair with Daniels, who in a 2011 interview extensively detailed the year-long relationship she says she had with Trump starting in 2006 — the year after he married his wife Melania.
During Thursday night’s Fox News segment, co-guest Juan Williams pointed out the holes in Jeffress’ position, including the fact that voters never had the opportunity to learn about Trump’s relationship with Daniels before the election because of the hush payment — a payment the White House accidentally acknowledged Trump was directly involved in earlier this week.
But Jeffress wouldn’t budge. He brought up the Monica Lewinsky scandal as an example of how some critics of Trump are purportedly being hypocritical.
“Even if it’s proven to be true, it doesn’t matter because of what I just said,” Jeffress said. “And Juan, listen — a blue dress was not enough to turn you into a red Republican, and I believe anything Stormy Daniels has will not be enough to turn red Republicans into blue Democrats. This is about the policies and issues.”
Williams responded by mentioning how the biblical Jesus believed sinners sometimes needed to be treated harshly for their misdeeds.
“Pastor, you cannot sell your integrity, your Christians values, and say, ‘because President Trump is anti-abortion, I’ll support him no matter what,'” Williams said. “What happened to the principles, what happened to your love of people of character?”
Jeffress countered that Christ forgave sinners, prompting Williams to note that Trump hasn’t even asked for it.
“This president, pastor, has never asked for forgiveness, never acknowledged it, he has tried to silence people,” Williams said.
Indeed, Trump’s treatment of Daniels is reminiscent of his treatment of the 14 women who have accused him of sexual assault. Despite being recorded on a hot mic bragging about assaulting women, Trump has denied each and every accusation, and even went so far as to suggest some of his accusers were too ugly for him in the first place. Since Trump’s inauguration, the White House has made clear its official position is that all of Trump’s accusers are lying.
Not only has Trump not asked for forgiveness, but he responded to a recent Washington Post feature story about Rachel Crooks — one of at least 14 women who have accused him of sexual assault — by falsifying her story of being assaulted by him, then claiming it proven his innocence.