Evangelical adviser defends Trump, cites backing ‘known womanizer’ Reagan
Pastor Robert Jeffress, an evangelical adviser for President Trump, backed the president against criticism following revelations that longtime lawyer Michael Cohen secretly recorded Trump discussing a payment to a former Playboy model, citing evangelicals backing former President Reagan as a defense.
Jeffress on Friday said on Fox News that the sex scandals surrounding the president are “not an unusual thing,” and that evangelicals in the U.S. faced a similar dilemma with Reagan.
“Back in 1980, evangelicals chose to support a twice-married Hollywood actor who was a known womanizer in Hollywood,” Jeffress said. “His name was Ronald Reagan. They chose to support him over Jimmy Carter, a born-again Baptist Sunday school teacher who had been faithfully married to one woman.”
Jeffress added that Americans who supported Reagan overlooked his “womanizing” tendencies because of his policies and that the same precedent applies to Trump.
“The reason we supported President Reagan was not because we supported womanizing or divorce,” he said. “We supported his policies. … We’re not under any illusion that we were voting for an altar boy when we voted for President Trump. We knew about his past. And by the way, none of us has a perfect past. We voted for him because of his policies.”
It was reported last week that Cohen had taped the president talking about the payment to Karen McDougal, who claims she had an affair with Trump more than a decade ago.
The FBI reportedly seized the tapes in a raid on Cohen’s office and hotel room earlier this year as part of an investigation into alleged financial crimes.
The revelation of the existence of the recordings has raised further questions about what Trump knew and when he knew it about various hush payments made on his behalf to women who have claimed to have had affairs with Trump.
Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani claimed that the recording will exonerate Trump and prove that he did not know about the payment in advance. He said that the payment to McDougal was never made.
Trump called it “inconceivable” that the government would seize the tape, and that Cohen would record him.