(CNN) – President Donald Trump is trying to appeal to Christian leaders to get votes for GOP candidates in the November midterm elections.
During a closed-door meeting with evangelicals Monday, he warned of violence against their congregations from left-leaning groups if Republicans lose.
Based on a recording made by people in the room, which has been reviewed by CNN and NBC News, Trump said this, in part:
This November 6 election is very much a referendum on not only me, it's a referendum on your religion, it's a referendum on free speech and the First Amendment. It's a referendum on so much.
I think we're popular, but there's a real question as to whether people are going to vote if I'm not on the ballot. And I'm not on the ballot. A lot of people think I don't like Congress. People say I'm not voting because the president doesn't like Congress. It's not a question of like or dislike, it's a question that they will overturn everything that we've done and they will do it quickly and violently. And violently. There is violence. When you look at Antifa – these are violent people.
You have tremendous power. You were saying, in this room, you have people who preach to almost 200 million people. Depending on which Sunday we're talking about.
Trump and other Republicans have frequently tried to connect liberals to the far-left group of anti-fascists known as Antifa, which has been partially responsible for escalated tensions at various rallies involving white supremacists and neo-Nazis around the country.
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