It was a really normal Sunday night. The Cowboys raised my blood pressure, 60 Minutes aired, and President Donald Trump’s publicized the comments of a pastor who believes impeaching the president would mean a second civil war.
In four tweets, Trump published his favorite parts of the appearance of Robert Jeffress, a Baptist pastor from Dallas, on Fox News on Sunday. “But Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats can’t put down the impeachment match. They know they couldn’t beat him in 2016 against Hillary Clinton, they are increasingly aware of the fact that they won’t win against him in 2020, and impeachment is the only tool they have to get rid of Donald Trump and the Democrats don’t care if they burn down and destroy this nation in the process,” Jeffress told Fox & Friends Sunday co-host Jedediah Bila, according to Media Matters.
This sounds exactly like what Trump wants to hear thus far in Jeffress’s appearance. Frankly, these comments don’t seem that far off from what rightwing media and pundits have been saying in the last week. But then Jeffress goes a bit off the rails — if he was ever even on them.
“Look, I don’t pretend to speak for all evangelicals, but this week I have been traveling the country and I’ve literally spoken to thousands and thousands of evangelical Christians,” Jeffress said. (Trump didn’t include this part of his comments in the tweets.)
But Jeffress continued: “I have never seen them [Trump wrote “Evangelical Christians”] more angry over any issue than this attempt to illegitimately remove this president from office, overturn the 2016 election and negate the votes of millions of evangelicals in the process. And they know that the only impeachable offense President Trump has committed was beating Hillary Clinton in 2016.”
Then he intertwined Trump and Jesus, comparing his victory in the 2016 election to the “unpardonable sin” that Democrats can never forgive. Unclear how Democrats became the clergy and/or conduit between the people and god (I guess?) in this metaphor as they don’t even fully control one branch of government.
Jeffress soldiers on. “And I do want to make this prediction this morning: If the Democrats are successful in removing the president from office, I’m afraid it will cause a Civil War-like fracture in this nation from which this country will never heal,” he said.
This is one of the most extreme reactions to the discussion of impeachment and the impeachment inquiry that is less than a week old. Impeachment doesn’t invalidate a vote for this particular Republican candidate. It isn’t made in response to losing an election. If that were the case, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would have initiated the inquiry immediately after the 116th Congress was seated in January.