All eyes were on James Comey’s explosive Senate hearing on Thursday, but President Donald Trump was kept busy enough on the other side of Washington, D.C. Speaking at the Faith and Freedom Conference, Trump claimed evangelicals were “under siege,” and blasted Democrats as “obstructionists,” calling their staunch opposition to him “bad for the country.”
Trump’s Thursday schedule kept him on friendly ground. White evangelicals broke for him by huge margins during the 2016 presidential race, despite the narrative that such voters demanded people of demonstrable faith, upstanding moral character, and prayerful solemnity.
His speech invoked the doomsday references he so often employs while speaking to the Christian right. “As you know, we’re under siege, you understand that. But we will come out bigger and better and stronger than ever. You watch,” Trump said. “You fought hard for me and now I’m fighting hard for all of you.”
Far from the typical vision of an staunch Christian, Trump is twice-divorced, has engaged in extra-martial affairs, and faced a slew of allegations of sexually misconduct (allegations he has forcefully denied). On the campaign trail last year, he who described himself as a Presbyterian, although he showed little to no knowledge of the Bible.
— The Situation Room (@CNNSitRoom) June 8, 2017
It was a teleprompter speech, which he’s proven to be able to get through without going off script, and a conference for conservative evangelicals is probably a good time to show a little restraint. And while he didn’t mention the former FBI director’s name even once, perhaps the president was projecting a little in his speech.
The early months of the Trump presidency have gone just about as bad as possible, with countless scandals, embarrassing leaks, and a seemingly never-ending string of controversies. The most seriously threatening to Trump from a legal perspective is surely the allegation that he engaged in obstruction of justice with the Comey firing (another suggestion forcefully denied both by Trump and his personal attorney Marc Kasowitz).
In other words, Thursday was just another day at the Oval Office, so to speak. Trump has never shied away from attacking his political opponents, much less when he’s eager to, well, distract from something else that’s far more perilous to his presidency. On Thursday morning, however, Trump proved that he was content to focus on his evangelical base and stay off of Twitter, a fact that the people charged with protecting him likely found to be an absolute, utter relief.