Speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday, President Donald Trump attacked Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) for invoking their faith during the impeachment proceedings but ended up calling out his evangelical base.
“I don’t like people who use 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’s not so,” Trump said.
Trump’s remarks come with a twist of irony as his evangelical supporters often use their faith as a cover for a corrupt and immoral administration and to justify their hatred for gays, immigrants, Muslims and other minorities.
Romney, a devout Mormon, voted on Wednesday convict Trump for abuse of power, and Pelosi, one of the president’s chief foils, launched the impeachment inquiry in September.
Romney spoke about his faith when explaining his reasoning for voting to convict Trump on one article of impeachment.
“Does anyone seriously believe that I would consent to these consequences other than from an inescapable conviction that my oath before God demanded it of me?” Romney asked before the vote, growing emotional as he spoke.
The Utah Republican was the only senator to cross party lines in Wednesday’s vote. Trump was acquitted on both abuse of power and obstruction of Congress in the GOP-controlled Senate.
Pelosi has regularly said she prays for the president and his family. In December, she pushed back at a question in December about whether she hates Trump, insisting she does not hate anybody because of her Catholic faith.
Trump complained at the beginning of his remarks that he and his family have been “put through a terrible ordeal by some very dishonest and corrupt people.”
“They have done everything possible to destroy us, and by so doing very badly hurt our nation,” he said. “They know what they are doing is wrong, but they put themselves far ahead of our great country.”
Trump did not interact with Pelosi upon his arrival at the prayer breakfast. The two were in the same room again two days after a tense State of the Union address. But his remarks served as yet another escalation in what has grown to be an increasingly fraught relationship.
At the conclusion of the president’s speech Tuesday night, Pelosi picked up her copy of Trump’s prepared remarks and ripped it up, an act that has dominated the conversation about the speech in Washington, D.C.
Trump’s bitter remarks on Thursday came as a surprise to some onlookers who view the National Prayer Breakfast as a nonpartisan event focused on the significance of religious freedom. Presidents of both parties have attended the gathering since it began nearly 70 years ago.
President Trump: "I don't like people who use 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. So many people have been hurt and we can't let that go on."#NationalPrayerBreakfast pic.twitter.com/79XCLpD7GP
— CSPAN (@cspan) February 6, 2020