NYT's Bret Stephens on Trump impeachment comments: 'That was a frightening moment of television'

Conservative New York Times columnist Bret Stephens called President TrumpDonald John TrumpWhite House sued over lack of sign language interpreters at coronavirus briefings Wife blames Trump, lack of masks for husband's coronavirus death in obit: 'May Karma find you all' Trump authorizes reduced funding for National Guard coronavirus response through 2020 MORE’s response to his acquittal on two articles of impeachment a “frightening moment” on MSNBC Live Thursday morning.

Stephens made the comment in response to a clip of Trump’s speech at the National Prayer Breakfast Thursday morning.

In the speech, Trump said the nation had been “put through a terrible ordeal [by] corrupt people.” He also expressed disdain for people who “use their faith as justification for doing what they know is wrong [or who] say ‘I’ll pray for you’ when they know that that's not so."


Trump's comments were an apparent reference to House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiHillicon Valley: Trump backs potential Microsoft, TikTok deal, sets September deadline | House Republicans request classified TikTok briefing | Facebook labels manipulated Pelosi video Trump says he's considering executive action to suspend evictions, payroll tax Trump won't say if he disagrees with Birx that virus is widespread MORE (D-Calif.), who in the past has said she prays for the president "all the time," and Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneySenate GOP divided over whether they'd fill Supreme Court vacancy  Stimulus checks debate now focuses on size, eligibility CNN chyron says 'nah' to Trump claim about Russia MORE (R-Utah), who cited his faith in announcing his vote for conviction on the first article, abuse of power.

“My instant reaction is that this sounds like the preface for a vindictive moment,” Stephens said, saying that it was reminiscent of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s response to an unsuccessful 2016 coup. “I don’t want to go that far, but there was that tone of nastiness and 'get ready for that.' That was a frightening moment of television right there."

Stephens also compared Romney — who on Wednesday became the first U.S. senator in history to vote to remove a president from his own party — to Sen. Edmund Ross (R-Kan.), whose vote prevented then-President Andrew Johnson’s conviction after his impeachment in 1868.

“As a result, [he] lost his seat, but is remembered today,” Stephens said, adding that Romney was similarly “making that appeal to history, the sense that this is larger than this moment.”