Evangelical leaders rally around Kushner amid Russia probe
By JILL COLVIN, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — Evangelical leaders are rallying around White House senior adviser and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner as he meets with congressional leaders investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
A host of Christian leaders, from South Carolina Pastor Mark Burns to Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr., have been taking to Twitter and releasing statements voicing their support for Kushner as he spends two days speaking with congressional investigators on Capitol Hill.
"I've known Jared for many years. He's a man of integrity, character, and a great, personal friend," wrote Paula White, a gospel preacher and Trump friend who prayed at Trump's inaugural. "(E)nough-is-enough," she wrote.
Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr. blasted the "endless attempts by the media to keep the fake Russia collusion story alive— solely to obstruct the president's agenda" in a statement Monday.
"In Jared Kushner, they've picked the wrong fight. I don't know a more competent person. He is brilliant and he is a man of the highest integrity," Falwell wrote.
Kushner insisted Monday that he had done nothing improper during the campaign as he met with members of the Senate intelligence committee for nearly three hours behind closed doors. He's set to meet with lawmakers on the House intelligence committee Tuesday.
The coordinated statements are the work of Johnnie Moore, an evangelical activist from California, who recently attended a faith outreach meeting at the White House and tweeted a powerful photo of Christian leaders surrounding the president, heads bowed in prayer.
"We've all had it," said Moore, adding that he and other Christian leaders have become close to Jared over the years. Moore said that he decided on Monday morning that he wanted to release a statement and sent a note around to fellow faith leaders asking if they had anything to add.
"We didn't ask permission. They didn't even know we were doing it," he said of the White House. "For us it was personal."
Trump won an overwhelming 80 percent of the white evangelical vote in the November election, and a Pew Research Center survey marking his first 100 days in office found three-fourths of white evangelicals approved of his performance as president, versus thirty-nine percent of the general public.
Kushner, who is an orthodox Jew, acted as a liaison to the religious community, said Burns, the pastor from South Carolina, who served as an opening act at many Trump rallies.
"Jared has been a huge instrument in giving us access to the White House. So this is just us showing our love and support back to him for what he has done for our faith-based community," said Burns.
Photo" White House senior adviser Jared Kushner speaks to reporters outside the White House in Washington, Monday, July 24, 2017, after meeting on Capitol Hill behind closed doors with the Senate Intelligence Committee on the investigation into possible collusion between Russian officials and the Trump campaign. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)