Whether you're the most powerful person in the world or not, nobody is immune to a surprise spider attack. That's what's suggested, at least, by an anecdote from controversial conservative, pro-Trump pastor Mark Burns, who told The Washington Post this week that he intervened to save the president from a venomous spider in the Oval Office. Sure, the spider wouldn't have killed anyone, but its bite would've hurt.
It's a harrowing story for anyone who gets a little edgy around spiders, but Burns was clearly willing to step in to protect the man he supported throughout the 2016 presidential race. Burns delivered a fire-breathing and controversial speech at the Republican National Convention in support of Trump, and on Monday, he was at the White House with some other evangelical leaders to honor the president. The occasion was Trump's recent, controversial decision to declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel.
According to Burns, while he and the other evangelical leaders were in the Oval Office, he spotted an enormous spider climbing up the back of President Trump's jacket, which the Post says Burns described as being about the size of a half-dollar coin. Despite being averse to spiders himself, Burns then swatted it, striking Trump in the back, before hastily explaining to security that he was killing a spider.
The arachnid in question, according to the article, was a "yellow sac" spider, common throughout the United States, and in Washington D.C. in particular. Yellow sac spider bites are typically not fatal, but they are painful, and as anyone who's ever been bit knows, it's usually at least a mildly distressing experience even if the pain and swelling isn't all that significant.
Yellow sac spider bites are reportedly sometimes mistaken for the more serious and widely feared bite of the brown recluse, which can badly sicken some people, requiring medical attention and risking damage to the affected tissue.
According to the report, Burns said he swatted the large spider with his bare hand ― some kinda nerve, this guy ― and thumped Trump, making a much louder sound than he expected.
"It made such a loud noise, and I think people were bewildered and were like, ‘What did you just do?’," Burns said, according to the Post. He then urged the Oval Office security not to get the wrong idea.
"Security, please don’t shoot me! He had a spider on his back," Burns reportedly said.
Burns, 38, is the pastor of the Harvest Praise & Worship Center in South Carolina, and a televangelist, having co-founded the NOW Television Network with his wife. He was an early supporter of Trump's presidential campaign, leaping on board as perhaps his most visible evangelical supporter following a meeting in October 2015. The was just months after Trump first announced his presidential bid ― his first day as a political candidate was on June 16, 2015.
Burns drew some attention and scrutiny during the primary season for attacking the faith of Vermont senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, accusing him of not believing in god, and needing to be "saved." He later denied that he was attacking Sanders' Judaism, but the manner in which Sanders expressed it, suggesting he was "not a religious-minded individual." Sanders, for his part, has described himself as "very proud of being Jewish," saying it's a "an essential part of who I am as a human being."
Burns also drew fire for his RNC speech, in which he shouted that "all lives" would matter under a Trump administration and that Trump would not "pander" to any one race, sparking an "all lives matter" chant from the partisan Republican crowd in Cleveland.