As allegations continue to swirl about the president and a payout to a porn star to cover up a sexual encounter, evangelical leaders are organizing a sit-down with President Trump in June, four sources with knowledge of the planned meeting tell NPR.
“We’re very concerned” about the allegations, said a leader of a faith-based ministry. The leader is involved in hosting the gathering, which organizers are aiming to take place June 19 at Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. The source said the combination of the Stormy Daniels sex-scandal allegations and Trump’s continued reputation for divisive rhetoric could suppress evangelical turnout in the November midterm elections.
“It is a concern of ours that 2018 could be very detrimental to some of the other issues that we hold dear,” like preserving religious liberty and restricting abortion rights, the source noted. The source, like the others with knowledge of the event, spoke to NPR on the condition of anonymity so as to not jeopardize the meeting.
Trump has denied Daniels’ allegations. Speaking with reporters on Air Force One on Thursday, he also denied knowing about the payment that his attorney, Michael Cohen, made to Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, days before the 2016 presidential election. She alleges she was paid $130,000 not to talk about the alleged affair.
Sources say organizers are working to firm up planning for the daylong event with the White House before sending invitations to hundreds of conservative Christian pastors and political leaders in the coming days.
A White House spokesman declined to comment on Thursday.
Trump has been invited to take questions from the evangelical leaders for roughly 90 minutes during the meeting. It’s not clear whether the allegations from Daniels — or another woman who alleges she had an affair with Trump, former Playboy model Karen McDougal — are likely to come up while the president is on stage in a more open session.
But a source said the president is likely to be asked about the women during private discussions in at least a “sidebar conversation.”
The ministry leader said Trump’s tone and personal life remain a concern for many evangelicals.
More proof that pro-Trump evangelicals have become just another lobbying group.
And by the way, what happened to the “mulligan” defense? I guess it is not playing very well politically. It’s time for the court evangelicals to rework (again) their political theology to help Trump get another term.