Trump slams opponents, asks for votes at National Prayer Breakfast

Washington D.C., Feb 6, 2020 / 11:00 am (CNA).- President Donald Trump chastised political opponents, touted strong economic numbers, and asked for votes at the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday in Washington, D.C.

At the beginning of his remarks, President Trump spoke of the “terrible ordeal” he had been through, caused, he said,  “by some very dishonest and corrupt people.” On Wednesday afternoon, a Senate vote failed to convict Trump on two impeachment counts of abuse of office and obstruction of Congress.

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) was the only Republican who broke ranks and voted to convict Trump, the only member of an impeached President’s party to vote to do so in U.S. history. Romney cited his “conscience” and “oath before God to apply impartial justice” as the reasons for his decision to do so.

Joining Trump at the event was Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who coordinated the House of Representatives’ effort to serve articles of impeachment against Trump, resulting in his trial in the Senate. 

In December last year, Pelosi angrily confronted a reporter who asked her if she hated Trump. She told the reporter not to “mess with [her].” Citing her Catholic upbringing, Pelosi insisted that she did not hate anyone and that she prayed for the president “all the time.”

“I don’t like people using their faith as justification for doing what they know is wrong, nor do I like people who say ‘I pray for you,’ when they know that that’s not so,” Trump said Thursday, apparently in reference to Pelosi and Romney.

“The enemies and the allies, we have them all,” he said. “Sometimes the allies are enemies, but we just don’t know it.”

“They like people, and sometimes they hate people. I’m sorry. I apologize. I’m trying to learn. It’s not easy. It’s not easy,” he said. “When they impeach you for nothing, then you’re supposed to like them. It’s not easy, folks. I do my best.”

“We want every nation to look up to us like they are right now. We were not a respected nation just a few years ago. We had lost our way. Our country is respected again, by everybody,” he said.

The 68th annual National Prayer Breakfast was held at the Hilton International Ballroomin Washington, D.C. on Thursday. Held annually since 1953, the event is hosted by members of Congress from both parties and organized by the Faith Foundation. Thursday’s breakfast was attended by representatives of more than 140 countries.

In keeping with previous years at the event, the president was invited to make an address, joined by Dr. Arthur Brooks of the American Enterprise Institute as a keynote speaker.

Reps. Tom Suozzi (D-N.Y.) and John Moolenaar (R-Mich.) were the congressional co-hosts, and other members of Congress in attendance included Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), and Rep Xochitl Torres Small (D-N.M.).

Three Ahmadi Muslims—a religious minority in Pakistan—were guests of Suozzi and Moolenaar. One of them, Ummad Farooq, was shot in the head in a religiously motivated attack but has since made a dramatic recovery.

Vice President Mike Pence and Second Lady Karen Pence also attended the breakfast. Singer Cece Winans performed, with her husband Alvin Love III present.

In her own remarks, Speaker Pelosi prayed for the “poor” and “persecuted” around the world, including Tibetan Buddhists, “one to three million” Uyghurs incarcerated in camps in China, “writers” and “freethinkers” persecuted in Saudi Arabia, detained Patriarch Abune Antonios in Eritrea, victims of anti-Semitism, Yazidis and Rohingya Muslims, and other persecuted religious minorities.

She also prayed “that we treat everyone with dignity and respect” and that “the moral clarity of faith moves us to demand justice for those who are suffering.”

Arthur Brooks, in his remarks, called attention to a “crisis of contempt and polarization that is tearing our societies apart.”

“The problem isn’t anger my friends,” he said, but “contempt.”

“Contempt kills marriages. Contempt kills relationships. Contempt kills love,” he said. “Watch how we talk to each other.”

While some are calling for “civility” and “tolerance,” he said, that’s a “low standard.” Jesus, he said, “didn’t say ‘tolerate your enemies,’” but rather “love your enemies.”

After Brooks spoke, President Trump remarked to laughter from the audience, “Arthur, I don’t know if I agree with you. But I don’t know if Arthur’s going to like what I’m going to say.”

Trump also mentioned victims of religious persecution in his remarks, saying the U.S. is standing up for “religious minorities around the world like nobody has ever done.” He noted the case of “Mary,” a 21 year-old detained in Iran for converting to Christianit,y and the arrests of church leaders by Venezuelan dictator Nicholas Maduro.

Trump also praised the cultural contributions of religious immigrants throughout American history. 

“Before a single skyscraper rose up in New York City, thousands of poor American families donated all they could to build the magnificent St. Patrick’s Cathedral,” Trump said.

“We are creating a culture that protects freedom, and that includes religious freedom,” Trump said. “We are upholding the sanctity of life, sanctity of life,” he said, “and we are doing that like nobody has ever done it before from this position.” He added that “every child is a sacred gift from God.”

The president also appeared to ask for support from the audience at the non-partisan event.

“You better get out and vote on November 3rd, because you have a lot of people out there who aren’t liking what we’re doing,” he said.

At the prayer breakfast, Trump also touted strong economic and employment numbers, as well as a recent Gallup poll reporting satisfaction by Americans—”and that’s from Gallup, no friend of mine,” he said.

“And the great American comeback, that’s what it is,” he said. “Our country has never done better than it is doing right now. Our economy is the strongest it has ever been.”

“And for those of you who are interested in stocks, it looks like the stock market will be way up again today,” he said.

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