Trump seen bowing in prayer during Oval Office session
President Donald Trump, who has remained out of public view since returning from Europe late Saturday, welcomed evangelical leaders into the Oval Office on Monday for a prayer session.
Photos posted by some of the invitees show the group surrounding Trump and laying their hands on his shoulders as his head is bent in prayer.
The picture was posted by Johnnie Moore, a former senior vice president at Liberty University, a large evangelical university in Virginia. It also showed Vice President Mike Pence, with his eyes shut, participating in the Oval Office prayer session.
Others pictured in posts from the Oval Office included Jack Graham, the pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, and Michele Bachmann, the former Republican congresswoman from Minnesota.
Moore, reached on Wednesday, said the meeting happened after a number of national faith leaders were invited to meet the President as they met with representatives from the Office of Public Liaison.
Evangelicals, like Moore, believe deeply about praying for the President. And the faith leader said that the group — after a “lighthearted visit among friends” — ended the meeting in prayer.
“We similarly prayed for President Obama but it’s different with President Trump,” Moore said. “When we are praying for President Trump, we are praying within the context of a real relationship, of true friendship.”
Trump, in between two foreign trips, finds himself embroiled in yet another story about his campaign’s ties to Russia. The New York Times reported on Sunday that Donald Trump Jr., the President’s eldest son, met in June 2016 with Natalia Veselnitskaya, a lawyer described to him as an emissary of the Russian government with information that was part of the country’s effort to help elect his father. The story has continued to grow, with Trump defending his son on Tuesday as “innocent” and a “high-quality person.”
Moore described Trump as “absolutely confident, entirely in command” during the meeting.
“He was also in good spirits,” Moore said. “He was as strong and focused as I have ever seen him. It was as if he was entirely above the fray.”
Trump, throughout both the presidential campaign and his time in the White House, has worked to woo evangelical voters, some of whom remained skeptical of him during the election. Trump, according to Pew Research, won 81% of white evangelical voters in the 2016 election.
“You didn’t let me down and I will never, ever let you down, you know that,” Trump said at June’s meeting of Faith & Freedom Coalition conference in Washington.
The meeting didn’t appear on Trump’s public schedule, which has been devoid of appearances every day this week. He’s due to depart for Paris late Wednesday.
CLARIFICATION: This story has been updated to specify a group of voters who backed Trump in 2016. Trump won 81% of white evangelical voters.