US President Donald Trump, facing scrutiny for hush money payments to a porn star and a former Playboy model, pleaded with evangelical leaders for political help during closed-door remarks on Monday, warning of dire consequences to their congregations should Republicans lose in November’s midterm elections.

“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,” Trump told the assemblage of pastors and other Christian leaders gathered in the State Dining Room, according to a recording from people in the room.
“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,” Trump said, describing what would happen should his voters fail to cast ballots. “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.”
“You have to hopefully get out and get people to support us,” Trump said. “If you don’t, that will be the beginning of ending everything that you’ve gotten.”
Trump will need to maintain that support if he hopes to help Republicans stay in power on Capitol Hill or win re-election himself in 2020. On Monday, he touted the steps he’s taken to promote religious liberty, such as loosening restrictions on political speech from the pulpit, which previously could jeopardize religious institutions’ tax-exempt status.