Saturday, 21 December 2019 08:47

Trump Blasts Evangelical Christian Magazine Calling for His Removal From Office

U.S. President Donald Trump lashed out Friday at a leading evangelical Christian magazine after it published an editorial calling for his removal from office.

The editorial in Christianity Today, founded by the late Reverend Billy Graham, a respected spiritual counselor to multiple U.S. presidents, said the magazine could no longer remain silent after the House of Representatives impeached Trump on Wednesday.

"The president of the United States attempted to use his political power to coerce a foreign leader to harass and discredit one of the president's political opponents," said the editorial, titled, "Trump Should Be Removed from Office."

"That is not only a violation of the Constitution; more importantly, it is profoundly immoral," declared the editorial, written by editor-in-chief Mark Galli and published Thursday.

Trump criticized the magazine, describing it on Twitter as a "far left" publication, which "has been doing poorly and hasn't been involved with the Billy Graham family for many years."

Trump claimed the magazine "knows nothing about reading a perfect transcript of a routine phone call," alluding to a July phone conversation with Ukraine's president that resulted in Trump's impeachment.

Trump also wrote, "No President has done more for the evangelical community, and it's not even close."

Galli responded to Trump's comments in an interview on CNN and explained the editorial was necessitated by the urgent nature of Trump's impeachment.

"We rarely comment on politics unless we feel it rises to the level of some national … concern that is really important," Galli said. "This is something we need as a movement to think about, pray about at this time in our life."

The editorial is particularly significant given that evangelical Christians have been among Trump's most fervent supporters. They make up about one-fourth of U.S. voters and 80 percent of them voted for Trump in the 2016 election, according to the Pew Research Center.

Graham's son, Franklin, tweeted Friday that his late father supported Trump and would have been "disappointed" in the editorial.

The editorial was published one day after Trump became the third president in U.S. history to be impeached by the House of Representatives.

Awaiting Senate rules

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday she would not send the articles of impeachment to the Senate or choose impeachment prosecutors until the Senate agrees on rules governing the process.

"When we see what they have, we'll know who and how many to send over," Pelosi said at her weekly Capitol Hill news conference.

The Senate is not authorized to begin a trial until it receives the articles from the House.

On a near straight party line vote, the Democrat-controlled House approved two articles of impeachment against Trump, a Republican, making him only the third U.S. president to be impeached in the country's 243-year history. He is accused of abusing the power of the presidency to benefit himself politically and then obstructing congressional efforts to investigate his actions.

Top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor Thursday that Pelosi is afraid to send the Democrats' "shoddy work product to the Senate" after declaring the Democratic Party-led impeachment hearings an "unfair" process that has created "a toxic new precedent that will echo well into the future."

A trial in the Senate, which McConnell has said would be a top priority in January, is likely to end with Trump's acquittal by the majority-Republican body.

When asked about the prospects of a fair Senate trial as mandated by the Constitution, Pelosi took aim at both Trump and McConnell, stating she does not think the Founding Fathers ever "suspected that we could have a rogue president and a rogue leader in the Senate at the same time."

On Twitter, Trump charged that "Pelosi feels her phony impeachment HOAX is so pathetic she is afraid to present it to the Senate, which can set a date and put this whole SCAM into default if they refuse to show up!"

Senator Lindsey Graham, a staunch ally of Trump, tweeted early Thursday that Pelosi's failure to send the articles to the Senate "would be a breathtaking violation of the Constitution, an act of political cowardice, and fundamentally unfair" to Trump.

The White House released a statement shortly after the vote to impeach Trump on Wednesday, calling it a "sham impeachment" and the culmination of "one of the most shameful political episodes in the history of our Nation."

The statement added Trump "is prepared for the next steps and confident that he will be fully exonerated."

Impeachment debate, vote

The House debated the merits of Trump's impeachment for more than six hours before voting. Democratic lawmakers pointedly advanced the case for Trump's impeachment.

Republicans continued to maintain that Trump had done nothing wrong in his months-long push to get Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, Trump's chief Democratic rival in the 2020 presidential election, and son Hunter Biden's lucrative work for a Ukrainian natural gas company. They also continued to advance a debunked theory that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election that Trump won to undermine his campaign.

Trump made the appeal for the Biden investigations directly to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in a late July phone call at a time when he was temporarily withholding $391 million in military aid Kyiv wanted to help fight pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Trump eventually released the money in September without Zelenskiy launching the Biden investigations, proof, Republicans said during the House floor debate, that Trump had not engaged in a reciprocal quid pro quo deal, the military aid in exchange for the Biden investigations.

One of the articles of impeachment approved by the House accused Trump of abusing the power of the presidency by soliciting a foreign government, Ukraine, to undertake the investigations to help him run against Biden, who is leading national polls of Democrats in the race for the party's presidential nomination to oppose Trump next year.

In the 230-197 vote on Article I, all but two Democrats voted for approval, and all Republicans voted against it.

The second impeachment allegation said Trump obstructed Congress by withholding thousands of Ukraine-related documents from House impeachment investigators and then blocking key officials in his administration from testifying during weeks of hearings Democratic-controlled committees conducted into Trump's actions related to Ukraine.

In the 229-198 vote on Article II, all but three Democrats voted for approval, and all Republicans voted against it.

The two other U.S. presidents who have been impeached were Andrew Johnson in the mid-19th century and Bill Clinton two decades ago. Both were acquitted in the Senate and remained in office.

(VOA)

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