Several evangelical Christian leaders are planning a sit-down with President Trump in June over allegations that his lawyer paid adult-film star Stormy Daniels $130,000 in 2016 for her silence about an alleged affair with Trump more than a decade ago.
Several sources familiar with the negotiations between top faith leaders and the Trump White House told NPR that the president is expected to meet to take questions from supporters and evangelicals on June 19 at his Washington, D.C., hotel.
“We’re very concerned” about the allegations, the leader of one ministry told NPR.
“There’s things that are like fingernails on the chalkboard to people of faith. That’s not who we are; that’s not a ‘fruit of the Spirit’; that’s not leading with humility,” said another person familiar with the talks.
Trump has denied the alleged affair with Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, and on Thursday also denied having any prior knowledge of his personal lawyer Michael Cohen’s $130,000 payment to Daniels. The payment, Daniels says, was to keep her from discussing the alleged affair ahead of the 2016 presidential election.
One source working to set up the meeting with the White House told NPR that it sprung from concerns about Republicans’ performance heading into this year’s midterm elections.
“It is a concern of ours that 2018 could be very detrimental to some of the other issues that we hold dear,” they said.
The faith leaders hope to find a way to galvanize right-leaning support heading into the fall, when Trump will not be on the ballot but his agenda will face a test as voters decide whether to protect GOP majorities in both chambers of Congress.
“Let’s reconvene,” one NPR source said, “and let’s see what we can do to encourage enthusiasm — beyond Trump, so to speak.”
Recent polls suggest Democrats could hold as much as a 10-point lead over generic Republican opponents heading into the fall, while a plurality of voters said they also want to see Democrats retake the Senate.