Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney praised President Donald Trump's personal commitment to the protection of religious liberty while speaking at the 15th annual National Catholic Prayer breakfast on Tuesday.
Mulvaney told the audience of Catholic leaders gathered in Washington, D.C., that in addition to emphasizing religious liberty during his public speeches, during private meetings at the White House Trump also speaks with world leaders about the importance of protecting the rights of Christians.
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"He will look at them and say, ‘You're not doing enough to take care of the Christians in your country,' or ‘Thank you for helping the Christians in your country,'" Mulvaney said.
Mulvaney also said that Trump's comments on abortion in 2019 State of the Union speech, which focused in large part on the then-recent scandal surrounding Virginia governor Ralph Northam's (D.) apparent endorsement of infanticide, were added in by Trump himself shortly before the speech.
"The president was looking at it the very last time before he went out to give the speech, and he made some notes—he didn't tell us what he was doing when he made the notes," Mulvaney said. "If you remember the speech, you heard what the president was writing. The president was writing more about how important it was to protect life and how terrible it was to see what Virginia was doing."
During that speech, Trump called Northam's comments on abortion "chilling," and condemned him for "basically" stating "he would execute a baby after birth." The president also criticized New York's Gov. Andrew Cuomo for signing state legislation which radically relaxed regulations on abortion access.
"Lawmakers in New York cheered with delight upon the passage of legislation that would allow a baby to be ripped from the mother's womb moments before birth. These are living, feeling, beautiful babies who will never get the chance to share their love and dreams with the world," he said in the speech.
Mulvaney concluded his remarks by affirming he is confident the principles of the Catholic faith "are alive and well and well-respected in this administration and are driving our policies."
Executive Vice President of the Federalist Society Leonard Leo also praised the Trump administration's defense of religious liberty, citing the president's originalist judicial nominations and his executive order cancelling the individual mandate in President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act requiring businesses to provide contraception for all employees.
"These are several of many actions that mark the commitment of President Donald Trump's administration to the advancement of religious freedom and belief in this country," Leo said.
The breakfast also featured a number of other Catholic speakers advocating for the continued protection of religious freedom in the United States. President of the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast William Saunders honored Ted and Julie Sandmann, parents of Nick Sandmann, who stood at the center of a media controversy at the March for Life in January.
Sandmann "stood strong and calm and true," as Native American activist Nathan Phillips taunted him and fellow high school students outside the Lincoln Memorial, Saunders said.
At the time, Trump defended Sandmann and the other students, amid nearly a week of media attacks accusing them of racism: "They have captivated the attention of the world, and I know they will use it for the good—maybe even to bring people together," Trump tweeted.
Nick Sandmann and the students of Covington have become symbols of Fake News and how evil it can be. They have captivated the attention of the world, and I know they will use it for the good – maybe even to bring people together. It started off unpleasant, but can end in a dream!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 22, 2019