As the House of Representatives debated articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump on Wednesday, one of the president’s Republican defenders took to the floor of the House to suggest that Trump may be a bigger martyr than Jesus Christ. Rep. Barry Loudermilk of Georgia argued:
Before you take this historic vote today, one week before Christmas, I want you to keep this in mind: When Jesus was falsely accused of treason, Pontius Pilate gave Jesus the opportunity to face his accusers. During that sham trial, Pontius Pilate afforded more rights to Jesus than the Democrats have afforded this president in this process.
Loudermilk was referencing the fact that the whistleblower who exposed Trump’s Ukraine bribery scheme has not been identified officially by the House or questioned and that Trump did not have lawyers present to question the series of fact-witnesses who unanimously corroborated the whistleblower’s allegations about Trump’s efforts to shake down Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for the announcement of investigations into his political rivals.
As House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler noted, though, Trump refused the opportunity to both participate and cooperate in the probe. “The president was given the opportunity to come and testify before the judiciary committee, to send his counsel, to question witnesses, he declined to do so,” Nadler said. The whistleblower’s account was largely corroborated by the witnesses to Trump’s bribery scheme, so House Democrats decided that exposing his or her identity was an unnecessary risk that could invite retaliation. Trump will have an opportunity to call witnesses in a Senate trial if Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell decides to conduct an open and fair trial, which he has indicated he will not do, in full accordance with Trump’s wishes.
Trump and Republican lawmakers have used other far-fetched comparisons to call attention to the perceived lack of due process. They’ve declared impeachment worse than the Salem witch trials and a day that will “live in infamy” alongside Pearl Harbor.
As for Loudermilk’s messianic comparison, it’s not the first time the president or his supporters have made this connection.
• Last month, a North Carolina pastor put up a sign accusing unnamed forces of “trying 2 impeach Jesus too!”
• In August, Trump tweeted a quote from conservative radio host Wayne Allyn Root calling the president “the King of Israel,” a biblical reference to Jesus.
• Last year, an opinion columnist at the Lexington Herald Leader offered that “Trump has faced the same type of opposition” as Jesus.
• There was also a 2018 billboard in which a group calling itself “Make the Gospel Great Again” featured a large image of Trump next to the quote about Jesus “the word became flesh.” (The group denied this was a comparison of Trump to Jesus.)
• Finally, shortly after Trump’s election, the Republican National Committee released a statement celebrating Christmas and the birth of Jesus and saying it was “time to celebrate the good news of a new King.”
So comparing Trump to Jesus is nothing new for conservatives. Doing it on the floor of the House of Representatives seems to be a first, though. Congrats, Barry Loudermilk!
Support our independent journalism
Readers like you make our work possible. Help us continue to provide the reporting, commentary and criticism you won’t find anywhere else.Join Slate Plus