Prominent evangelical leader Jerry Falwell, Jr. on Wednesday suggested that he will stand by and vote for Donald Trump, regardless of whether he sexually assaulted women, because he feels Trump is a changed man.
When asked about mounting allegations that Trump groped women, Falwell told CNN’s Erin Burnett he feels Trump has changed in the past five years and so those accusations didn’t worry him.
“I think he’s been through a change in the last four or five years,” Falwell said. “I think he’s been influenced strongly by his children, by his grandchildren. And I don’t think he’s the man he used to be.”
Burnett then asked Falwell whether Trump sexually assaulting women, if the allegations were true, was something Falwell could forgive and if Falwell could continue to support him. Falwell said that was not his place.
“It is not up to me to forgive anybody,” Falwell said. “I’m not, I’m not Jesus Christ. It is only Jesus who can forgive. And he can forgive anybody. All of us, we’re all redeemable. And like I said, Jesus was accused of being a friend of sinners when he was here on Earth. And it is not up to us to forgive. It is up to us to decide who would be the best president of the United States, who would take the right position on the issues to make America great again.”
Burnett pressed him again to say outright that he would support Trump if it was proven that he did assault women. Again, Falwell deflected and said he wouldn’t answer hypotheticals.
“I can’t answer a hypothetical question,” he said. “You’re saying if, if he murdered somebody, would I forgive him? That’s like asking something as ridiculous as that.”
“I’m going to vote for Donald Trump because I believe he’s the best qualified to be president of the United States,” he said. “And I’m not going to say anything to besmirch the character of any of these women.”
Falwell’s position clashes with that of some students at Liberty University, where he is president. Following Trump’s speech at the university Wednesday, a group called Liberty United Against Trump wrote a statement slamming Falwell for his support of Trump.
Watch below via CNN:
Jerry Falwell Jr. says Trump is a “changed man,” adding, “We’re not electing a pastor. We’re electing a president.” https://t.co/ESJfHSajg4
— CNN (@CNN) October 13, 2016