He served under Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush, but under Donald Trump’s presidency, Peter Wehner says things are different.
“I’m very uncomfortable calling myself now a Republican even though my roots are with the Republican Party,” Wehner told David Axelrod on “The Axe Files,” a podcast from the University of Chicago Institute of Politics and CNN.
Wehner, who now serves as a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, said he draws particular unease from the staunch evangelical defense of the President.
“What’s happened is that a lot of these prominent evangelical Christians have gone from making a prudential judgment to being the sword and shield for Donald Trump. They are his most reliable defenders,” Wehner said.
In the wake of initial reports about the President’s alleged affair with porn star Stormy Daniels, conservative evangelical leader Tony Perkins said Trump gets a “mulligan” when it comes to his personal behavior.
“Yes, evangelicals, conservatives, they gave him a mulligan. They let him have a do-over. They said we’ll start afresh with you and we’ll give you a second chance.” Perkins said in a interview on CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront.”
Evangelical leader Franklin Graham said Trump was a “changed man” from the time of his alleged affair. Graham argued that Trump been put in the White House by God.
Wehner said these excuses for the President’s behavior and rhetoric are “complete hypocrisy” – and it runs the risk of derailing the evangelical message.
“I think we’ve seen that there is, in their defense of Donald Trump, a kind of hypocrisy that is so obvious to everybody else but apparently themselves. And so I think that that has really had a discrediting effect on faith,” he said.
“I feel like something that I treasure and is important to me is being denigrated and harmed. And it’s it’s not only unnecessary, it’s downright destructive,” he added.