Leading social conservatives fired off a thunderous broadside Monday in defense of senior presidential adviser Jared Kushner, who assured the Senate Intelligence Committee staffers he did not collude with Russian operatives to influence the 2016 election.
Before Kushner's voluntary interview with investigators behind closed doors on Capitol Hill, he released a statement categorically insisting he did not "collude, nor know of anyone else in the campaign who colluded, with any foreign government."
Kushner added he had "no improper contacts" with any representative of a foreign country, and said he did not use Russian funds to finance his private business endeavors.
Among the chorus of leading evangelical figures coming to Kushner’s defense Monday: Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr.; author and pastor David Jeremiah; Trump spiritual mentor and pastor Paula White; early Trump supporter and First Baptist Church of Dallas pastor Robert Jeffress; Assemblies of God general superintendent George Wood; the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference; High Impact Leadership Coalition founder and Bishop Harry R. Jackson Jr.; author Dr. Ronnie Floyd, the former president of the Southern Baptist Convention; Dr. Jack Graham, the Texas pastor and two-term president of the Southern Baptist Convention; and author and global religious-freedom advocate Johnnie Moore.
Kushner's rock-solid wall of evangelical support reflects the increasingly close rapport social conservatives have enjoyed with this White House.
Earlier this month, a Twitter image of evangelical leaders praying for President Trump in the Oval Office sparked outrage on the left. CNN anchor Erin Burnett called it "very strange" and "a pretty stunning image." Kushner also attended that meeting.
Moore, founder and CEO of The Kairos Company, posted that image to Twitter and was stunned at the vitriol it unleashed.
He told Newsmax evangelicals "have a wide open door like never before into this administration."
Moore largely credited Kushner for the strength of that relationship, stating Monday, "He's become a confidante to our community, and I would say the key point of contact between the White House and evangelicals.
"All of us that know him would say that there isn't a person that we know with greater integrity, nor a person who is more kind and more thoughtful," Moore said. "America is better for his being alongside the president of the United States in the White House. Rather than punishing him for that, the country ought to be celebrating him for his service."
Kushner has been criticized recently for attending a meeting arranged by Donald Trump Jr., the president's son and his brother-in-law, with a Russian attorney. In his statement, Kushner said he attended the meeting at the younger Trump's request, arrived late, and within 10 minutes was devising an excuse to leave because the meeting was unproductive.
Among the messages of support Kushner receiving from leading evangelicals Monday:
Jerry Falwell Jr., president, Liberty University
"I believe the only criminal collusion occurring over the last year has been collusion between the media and government officials who are holdovers from the Obama administration leaking classified and secret information in an attempt to discredit our president. Through their actions, they are aiding and abetting those abroad who wanted to divide our country in 2016.
"The endless attempts by the media to keep the fake Russia collusion story alive solely to obstruct the president's agenda have destroyed the media's credibility with the people and needs to stop. In Jared Kushner, they've picked the wrong fight. I don't know a more competent person. He is brilliant and is a man of the highest integrity."
George Wood, general superintendent, Assemblies of God
"Several weeks ago I had the privilege of having dinner with Jared and Ivanka. They are incredibly kind and gracious people. I deplore that politics in this country has descended into blood-sport wherein good people like the Kushners, in order to serve the country they love, must endure unfounded attacks on their character, honesty, and trustworthiness."
Pastor David Jeremiah
"I can't help but admire Jared and Ivanka. The two of them have put their lives entirely on hold in order to pursue the good of their nation, and I have found them to be particularly interested in our concerns as evangelical Christians. It's just like God to use a young Jewish couple to help Christians in the United States defend their rights, and secure their religious freedom for now, and for subsequent generations."
Pastor Paula White
"I've known Jared for many years. He's a man of integrity, character, and a great, personal friend. Clearly, this Russian story is nonsense and it must end, enough-is-enough."
Pastor Robert Jeffress
"Jared Kushner is a friend of mine with impeccable character. His testimony today will reveal that his limited contacts with Russian representatives were completely within his role as the liaison between the Trump campaign and foreign governments. We are fortunate that a man as gifted as Jared Kushner is willing to sacrifice so much to serve our country."
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez
"I have found every interaction with Jared Kushner to be exemplary. He is clearly an extraordinary individual, with obvious integrity, and he has been a great gift to the evangelical community. We have always found him to be 'an ever-present help in time of need.' There are few things I'm sure of in the world we are living in today, but one of thing I am sure of is that Jared Kushner is a good man, and I'm honored to know him."
Dr. Jack Graham
"I met Jared Kushner over the 2016 presidential campaign, and I found the president's son-in-law to be a brilliant and quiet-spoken individual who was always interested in what was good for our evangelical community. He was often — and remains — our key liaison between the between the campaign and now the White House and the president. I've never known him not to take seriously any question or issue we've raised with him. I'm proud to know him and thankful for the position he's in."
Bishop Harry Jackson
"My heart immediately connected with Jared's over our mutual concern for criminal justice reform. He clearly is a man whose heart for our nation is only matched by his mind. I am honored to know him and — like many Christians in this country — I am heartened to know that day in and day out he is working for the people's interests in the people's house."
Dr. Ronnie Floyd
"From the beginning of my own interaction with President Trump, there has been one person always there at every meeting, available to answer every question, and immediately following up upon concerns of our community. That person is Jared Kushner. Though, I don't know him personally, I think I reflect the sentiment of many evangelicals across the country when I say that we view Jared as a close friend, who is deeply concerned that our issues remain at the forefront, and that the president's promises are fulfilled as it relates to our community. I admire him and appreciate his service to our country."
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