CNN’s Erin Burnett felt it was appropriate to ask Jerry Falwell Jr if “hypothetically” he was OK with Trump raping someone, but not before she tried to get him to denounce the president for alleged extramarital affairs.
“At this point, do you think the president needs to come out and address these allegations directly or not?” Burnett asked the Liberty University president on CNN’s “Out Front with Erin Burnett” Wednesday.
“I don’t think he needs to come forward. I think everyone knows his past,” Falwell replied. “I’m one of the 85 percent of evangelicals who supported him. We knew about his past as a real estate mogul, as sort of a playboy, as part of a beauty pageant, and we supported him for one reason: because of his position on the issues.”
Falwell explained that the focus should be on the issues and not on allegations.
“I never accused Bill Clinton even though I didn’t agree with his politics. And I think we need to be focused on the issues. When you choose a doctor or lawyer, or when you decide which movie to watch, you don’t check the doctor or the lawyer’s past to see if they’ve had an extra marital affair,” he said.
Burnett noted that prominent evangelical Bob Vander Plaats said Trump should publicly apologize for his actions and to his wife Melania if the allegations against him are true.
“Not all evangelicals agree. Evangelicals are diverse in their opinions, and I respect his opinion. I just don’t happen to agree with it,” Falwell responded. “And I believe what Jesus said, “’Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.’”
Burnett asked Falwell about the stories alleged by adult film star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal.
Falwell noted the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape which was released just before the 2016 election, and how he believed at the time that Trump was a different person since the 2005 recording.
“He’s had a change of heart. I think he’s changed in a positive way. I don’t think there’s any chance of anything like this happening in the White House like Bill Clinton was accused of or John Kennedy was accused of,” he said.
Burnett continued to press the issue, asking what would be a “red line” for Falwell.
“I think, just like with Bill Clinton, many of his supporters stuck with him no matter what he was accused of, even rape I believe he was accused of. And, you know, it’s a hypothetical question, so I can’t really answer it,” he replied.
“But hypothetically, you would be okay with even that? Is that what you are opening the door to? Rape?” Burnett asked.
“No, no,” Falwell said. “I’m just saying I have to wait and see the circumstances to make that judgement.”
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