Sarah Pulliam Bailey at the Washington Post reports this morning that a handful of conservative evangelical leaders have issued coordinated statements supporting Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner as he faces allegations of improper contacts with Russian government officials.
Those defending Kushner include some of Trump’s earliest and strongest supporters on the Religious Right, including Southern Baptist pastor Robert Jeffress, Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr. and prosperity gospel preacher Paula White. Also included in the group is Samuel Rodriquez of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, who has criticized Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric while simultaneously giving Trump political cover:
The group praising Kushner included Southern Baptist pastors David Jeremiah, Robert Jeffress, Ronnie Floyd and Jack Graham, Maryland pastor Harry Jackson, Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr., former Liberty chaplain Johnnie Moore, Florida megachurch pastor Paula White, Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, and George Wood, general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.
Newsmax has collected the statements. In his statement, Falwell accuses the media and Obama administration holdovers of “collusion” against Trump:
I believe the only criminal collusion occurring over the last year has been collusion between the media and government officials who are holdovers from the Obama administration leaking classified and secret information in an attempt to discredit our president. Through their actions, they are aiding and abetting those abroad who wanted to divide our country in 2016.
The endless attempts by the media to keep the fake Russia collusion story alive solely to obstruct the president’s agenda have destroyed the media’s credibility with the people and needs to stop. In Jared Kushner, they’ve picked the wrong fight. I don’t know a more competent person. He is brilliant and is a man of the highest integrity.
Pastor David Jeremiah marvels that it’s “just like God” to use a Jewish couple like Kushner and Ivanka Trump to protect American Christians:
I can’t help but admire Jared and Ivanka. The two of them have put their lives entirely on hold in order to pursue the good of their nation, and I have found them to be particularly interested in our concerns as evangelical Christians. It’s just like God to use a young Jewish couple to help Christians in the United States defend their rights, and secure their religious freedom for now, and for subsequent generations.
Ronnie Floyd says that he considers Kushner a friend even though they have never met because he is helping Trump fulfill his promises to conservative Christians:
From the beginning of my own interaction with President Trump, there has been one person always there at every meeting, available to answer every question, and immediately following up upon concerns of our community. That person is Jared Kushner. Though, I don’t know him personally, I think I reflect the sentiment of many evangelicals across the country when I say that we view Jared as a close friend, who is deeply concerned that our issues remain at the forefront, and that the president’s promises are fulfilled as it relates to our community. I admire him and appreciate his service to our country.
A number of the statements mention positive personal interactions with Kushner and shrug off allegations about the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russians. White dismisses “this Russia story” as “nonsense.”