Writing for the Daily Beast, conservative -- and former Republican -- Matt Lewis accused Donald Trump of intentionally pushing the country towards a new civil war in order to save his political skin and salvage his chances of being re-elected.
Pulling no punches, the conservative columnist called out the president for his church and Bible stunt late Monday, which led to the teargassing of peaceful protesters so the president could preen in a photo-op, and claimed it's just another sign of his authoritarian tendencies.
"Donald Trump proved one thing in the Rose Garden Monday night. He doesn’t want to bring people together. He doesn’t want peace. He wants to divide and incite. He wants to roil and anger. And we can’t keep letting him put America through this turmoil," he wrote before adding, "Trump’s words and actions on Monday night will fan the flames of anger and incite more violence. This is not an accidental byproduct. It’s the goal."
According to Lewis, Trump wants nothing less than a civil war.
"We're inching toward civil war land. Trump is trying to divide us between liberal and conservative, between rural and urban, between white and black, and between those who want to end police abuse and those who want to end rioting and lawlessness," he wrote before adding that Trump's declining re-election prospects are in large part the reason for the president's increasingly strident rhetoric.
"He doesn’t want to allow us to be both against police abuse and for law and order. Trump cannot survive in such a nuanced world. He can’t win if we get along. He only has a shot at re-election if we return to our tribal corners," he wrote before warning, " We cannot be casual observers here. He is putting people’s lives in jeopardy in order to manipulate us. This. Is. Wrong."
"While cameras were on hand for his address, Trump had the police use flashbangs and tear gas to clear peaceful protesters from nearby Lafayette Park. This was abusive and immoral. What is more, it was done just so that he could stage a photo op in front of St. John’s Church (a move that outraged the bishop in charge of the church)," he added. "Trump did it to demonstrate strength in the wake of reports that he was cowering in the bunker of the White House on Friday night. He also did it to signal that he is a fighter for his white, evangelical base."
Saying the president "weaponized" the church, Lewis said Christians should be outraged.
"In short, he desecrated the very symbols of the faith in order to co-opt them for political purposes. And for what amounted to a publicity stunt, he also put the lives of protesters, police, and journalists at stake," he wrote before lamenting. "I suspect devout Christians will be morally repulsed by the imagery, while those who view Christianity as part of their cultural identity will applaud."
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