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Over the weekend, outgoing Secretary of Energy Rick Perry sat down with Fox & Friends host Ed Henry to share his belief that Donald Trump, a thrice-married serial philanderer accused by multiple women of sexual assault, is God's "chosen one," echoing language Trump has previously used to describe himself. " 'If you're a believing Christian, you understand God's plan for the people who rule and judge over us on this planet and our government,' " he says he told the president.
Perry, who announced his resignation from Trump's cabinet back in October, acknowledged that although the man who appointed him is not "perfect," God has "used imperfect people all through history" to carry out his will. In what is likely a first for the official in charge of America's nuclear-weapons arsenal, Perry revealed that he had even authored a memorandum comparing Trump to Old Testament kings Saul, David, and Solomon in order to drive home the point.
Afterward, Henry noted that lest "people on the left" attack Perry for this position, Perry believes Barack Obama was sent by God, too—"for that moment and that time," Henry explained. But "for this moment and this time," the host added, Perry believes "Donald Trump was sent by God to do great things."
Perry's view of Trump has evolved considerably since July 2015, when he called his then rival for the GOP presidential nomination a "cancer on conservatism" that "cannot be pacified or ignored," and instead must be "clearly diagnosed, excised, and discarded." This proclamation came a day after Trump roasted Perry on the campaign trail, telling supporters that the former Texas governor "put glasses on so people will think he's smart," and that it "just doesn't work."
"The White House has been occupied by giants," said Perry, who remains the only cabinet member in history to have appeared on ABC's Dancing with the Stars. (As a former White House press secretary, recent DWTS also-ran Sean Spicer doesn't count.) "But from time to time, it is sought by the small-minded: divisive figures, propelled by anger, appealing to the worst instincts in the human condition." He went on to opine that Trump "offers a barking carnival act that can best be described as 'Trumpism': a toxic mix of demagoguery and mean-spiritedness and nonsense."
Perry—who was polling at around 4 percent as a presidential candidate among Republican voters at the time—warned that embracing "Trumpism" would doom the Republican Party. Now he is among its most enthusiastic cheerleaders, proudly serving for more than two years as the head of a federal agency whose name he once literally forgot in the middle of a presidential debate.
As a general matter, lavishing the party's famously mercurial leader with praise is never a terrible idea among Republicans, especially for those laying the groundwork for their post-Trump futures in the party. Earlier this year, then White House press secretary and potential Arkansas gubernatorial hopeful Sarah Huckabee Sanders told the Christian Broadcasting Network that God "wanted Donald Trump to become president." On Monday morning, CBN released a clip of an interview with former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley in which she, too, declared that she sees Trump's presidency as the product of divine provenance. "I think that God sometimes places people for lessons and sometimes places people for change," she said, pointing to the economy's performance and Trump's decision, lauded by evangelical Christians, to move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. "You can look at everything that's happened, and I think we're seeing a lot of change, and I think we're gaining a lot of lessons from it, as well."
Perry, however, has an additional incentive to remain in Trump's good graces: signaling his loyalty in the midst of the House's ongoing impeachment process. According to the testimony of U.S. diplomat Gordon Sondland last week, Perry knew of the president's efforts to extort the government of Ukraine to bring about an investigation of Joe Biden, and communicated directly with Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, about the shadow foreign policy negotiations between the two nations.
Through a department spokesperson, Perry denied wrongdoing and stated that Trump mentioned neither Biden nor Burisma, the Ukrainian energy company for which Biden's son Hunter worked, in their conversations. However, Perry also declined to comply with a congressional subpoena for records related to the Trump-Ukraine scandal, and refused to testify behind closed doors about any of this under oath.
Analogizing a sitting president to a trio of famed Biblical monarchs is perhaps an unconventional strategy for complimenting one's boss. But at this point, Donald Trump is used to being on the receiving end of religion-themed flattery from his current and former subordinates. And by making the case on Fox & Friends, the president's morning television program of choice, Perry all but ensures that his message will reach its intended audience.
An outgrowth of the alt-right has become impatient with the white nationalist promise of the Trump presidency.
Originally Appeared on GQ