President Donald Trump, amid fallout over a high-profile White House aide departing due to domestic abuse allegations, touted the role of faith in the United States at the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday.
The comments come a day after top White House aide Rob Porter resigned his position after multiple domestic abuse allegations. The handling of Porter’s departure has raised considerable questions about how chief of staff John Kelly and other top White House aides handled the allegations and whether the top aide was only dismissed because photos of his alleged domestic abuse came to light.
Trump, who has taken to touting faith’s role in the United States ever since he began running for President in 2015, said Thursday that “our rights are not given to us by man, our rights come from our creator.”
“No earthly force can take those rights away,” he added.
He touted the fact that “In God We Trust” is inscribed on United States currency and said “our founders invoked our creator four times in the Declaration of Independence.”
“Today we praise god for how truly blessed we are to be American,” he said.
Kelly traveled to the speech with Trump, a tacit acknowledgment that even as the fallout from Porter’s departure ensnares the chief of staff, the President remains committed to Kelly.
Senior aides to the President – including Kelly – knew for months about allegations of domestic abuse levied against Porter, multiple sources told CNN on Wednesday, but continued to enable his rise inside the West Wing. Porter had become an important aide to Kelly, who used the staff secretary as an enforcer inside the at-times unruly West Wing.
Trump wasn’t aware of the allegations, two sources with knowledge told CNN, and was angry when he found out.
Trump did not make mention of the Porter controversy in the speech, but did tell the audience of religious leaders that the United States stands with people who “suffer under repressive and brutal regimes.”
Trump also pledged to continue his fight against ISIS.
“Much work will always remain, but we will never rest until that job is completely done. And we are really doing it life never before,” he said.
Trump hosted a dinner for dignitaries attending the National Prayer Breakfast on Wednesday night at the White House.
In general, past presidents have invited diverse groups of faith leaders to religious events at the White House. But under Trump, the guest list has mostly represented one tradition: Evangelical, including faith advisers Paula White, Franklin Graham and Pastor Robert Jeffress.
CNN’s Daniel Burke contributed to this report.