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 TrumpAppeals court OKs White House diverting military funding to border wall construction Pentagon: Tentative meeting between spy agencies, Biden transition set for early next week Conservative policy director calls Section 230 repeal an 'existential threat' for tech 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 PelosiOn The Money: Unemployment gains lower than expected | Jobs report lights fire under coronavirus relief talks Hillicon Valley: Senate Intelligence Committee leaders warn of Chinese threats to national security | Biden says China must play by 'international norms' | House Democrats use Markup app for leadership contest voting Bipartisan governors call on Congress to pass coronavirus relief package MORE (D-Calif.), who in the past has said she prays for the president "all the time," and Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneySanders says he can't support bipartisan COVID-19 relief proposal in its current form Romney blasts Trump lack of leadership during pandemic: 'It's a great human tragedy' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - Congress inches closer to virus relief deal 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.”