Category Archives: Impeachment

an argument that trump should be removed from office

This editorial in a recent Christianity Today edition offers reasons why Christians should support removal of President Trump. It gives me pause..

Christianity Today – Dec. 19, 2019

In our founding documents, Billy Graham explains that Christianity Today will help evangelical Christians interpret the news in a manner that reflects their faith. The impeachment of Donald Trump is a significant event in the story of our republic. It requires comment.

The typical CT approach is to stay above the fray and allow Christians with different political convictions to make their arguments in the public square, to encourage all to pursue justice according to their convictions and treat their political opposition as charitably as possible. We want CT to be a place that welcomes Christians from across the political spectrum, and reminds everyone that politics is not the end and purpose of our being. We take pride in the fact, for instance, that politics does not dominate our homepage.

That said, we do feel it necessary from time to time to make our own opinions on political matters clear—always, as Graham encouraged us, doing so with both conviction and love. We love and pray for our president, as we love and pray for leaders (as well as ordinary citizens) on both sides of the political aisle.

Let’s grant this to the president: The Democrats have had it out for him from day one, and therefore nearly everything they do is under a cloud of partisan suspicion. This has led many to suspect not only motives but facts in these recent impeachment hearings. And, no, Mr. Trump did not have a serious opportunity to offer his side of the story in the House hearings on impeachment.

But the facts in this instance are unambiguous: 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. That is not only a violation of the Constitution; more importantly, it is profoundly immoral.

The reason many are not shocked about this is that this president has dumbed down the idea of morality in his administration. He has hired and fired a number of people who are now convicted criminals. He himself has admitted to immoral actions in business and his relationship with women, about which he remains proud. His Twitter feed alone—with its habitual string of mischaracterizations, lies, and slanders—is a near perfect example of a human being who is morally lost and confused.

Trump’s evangelical supporters have pointed to his Supreme Court nominees, his defense of religious liberty, and his stewardship of the economy, among other things, as achievements that justify their support of the president. We believe the impeachment hearings have made it absolutely clear, in a way the Mueller investigation did not, that President Trump has abused his authority for personal gain and betrayed his constitutional oath. The impeachment hearings have illuminated the president’s moral deficiencies for all to see. This damages the institution of the presidency, damages the reputation of our country, and damages both the spirit and the future of our people. None of the president’s positives can balance the moral and political danger we face under a leader of such grossly immoral character.

This concern for the character of our national leader is not new in CT. In 1998, we wrote this:

The President’s failure to tell the truth—even when cornered—rips at the fabric of the nation. This is not a private affair. For above all, social intercourse is built on a presumption of trust: trust that the milk your grocer sells you is wholesome and pure; trust that the money you put in your bank can be taken out of the bank; trust that your babysitter, firefighters, clergy, and ambulance drivers will all do their best. And while politicians are notorious for breaking campaign promises, while in office they have a fundamental obligation to uphold our trust in them and to live by the law.

And this:

Unsavory dealings and immoral acts by the President and those close to him have rendered this administration morally unable to lead.

Unfortunately, the words that we applied to Mr. Clinton 20 years ago apply almost perfectly to our current president. Whether Mr. Trump should be removed from office by the Senate or by popular vote next election—that is a matter of prudential judgment. That he should be removed, we believe, is not a matter of partisan loyalties but loyalty to the Creator of the Ten Commandments.

To the many evangelicals who continue to support Mr. Trump in spite of his blackened moral record, we might say this: Remember who you are and whom you serve. Consider how your justification of Mr. Trump influences your witness to your Lord and Savior. Consider what an unbelieving world will say if you continue to brush off Mr. Trump’s immoral words and behavior in the cause of political expediency. If we don’t reverse course now, will anyone take anything we say about justice and righteousness with any seriousness for decades to come? Can we say with a straight face that abortion is a great evil that cannot be tolerated and, with the same straight face, say that the bent and broken character of our nation’s leader doesn’t really matter in the end?

We have reserved judgment on Mr. Trump for years now. Some have criticized us for our reserve. But when it comes to condemning the behavior of another, patient charity must come first. So we have done our best to give evangelical Trump supporters their due, to try to understand their point of view, to see the prudential nature of so many political decisions they have made regarding Mr. Trump. To use an old cliché, it’s time to call a spade a spade, to say that no matter how many hands we win in this political poker game, we are playing with a stacked deck of gross immorality and ethical incompetence. And just when we think it’s time to push all our chips to the center of the table, that’s when the whole game will come crashing down. It will crash down on the reputation of evangelical religion and on the world’s understanding of the gospel. And it will come crashing down on a nation of men and women whose welfare is also our concern.

Mark Galli is editor in chief of Christianity Today.

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2019/december-web-only/trump-should-be-removed-from-office.html?fbclid=IwAR2A3oHRAoNgCbrr3lk7381-OUDxLItyLeygK4sLjoIWJAkpEuIl2rRIBsM

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Mr. Schiff’s Impeachment Opus

 WSJ 12/4/2019

These columns warned that once the machinery of impeachment was up and running, it would be impossible to stop. And so on Tuesday Adam Schiff released his House Intelligence Committee report on Ukraine that finds President Trump guilty of playing domestic politics with foreign policy. But it’s clear the President’s real sin is being the willful, undisciplined Donald Trump voters elected.

The bulk of Mr. Schiff’s 300-page opus is a prosecutorial account of Mr. Trump’s four-month attempt to persuade new Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to announce investigations into corruption and Ukraine’s role in the 2016 election. It is not a flattering tale, and it would make a compelling plank in a 2020 campaign indictment of Mr. Trump’s character and poor judgment.

But Mr. Schiff’s report casts himself and his cause as much grander. He is Adam at the bridge of our republic, heroic defender of American democracy. His introduction is worth quoting at length to capture his pretensions to nonpartisan statesmanship.

“The decision to move forward with an impeachment inquiry is not one we took lightly. Under the best of circumstances, impeachment is a wrenching process for the nation. I resisted calls to undertake an impeachment investigation for many months on that basis, notwithstanding the existence of presidential misconduct that I believed to be deeply unethical and damaging to our democracy,” he writes.

But in the end he heard the call of duty: “In making the decision to move forward, we were struck by the fact that the President’s misconduct was not an isolated occurrence, nor was it the product of a naïve president. Instead, the efforts to involve Ukraine in our 2020 presidential election were undertaken by a President who himself was elected in 2016 with the benefit of an unprecedented and sweeping campaign of election interference undertaken by Russia in his favor, and which the President welcomed and utilized.”

Here Mr. Schiff reveals the real impeachment motivation: Mr. Trump never would have won in 2016 without Vladimir Putin’s help, but Robert Mueller failed to prove that. So Democrats are settling for the lesser melodrama of Ukraine, an unchained Rudy Giuliani, and Joe and Hunter Biden. The details may not add up to much more than Mr. Trump obsessing about what he thinks Ukraine did in 2016, but it’s all the Democrats have.

The report’s summary sentence reveals the weakness of its case with overstatement: “The president placed his own personal and political interests above the national interests of the United States, sought to undermine the integrity of the U.S. presidential election process, and endangered U.S. national security.”

Yet every President seeks some political advantage in pursuing foreign policy. That includes Barack Obama when he asked Dmitry Medvedev to tell Mr. Putin to go easy on missile defense until after the 2012 election.

As for undermining election integrity, that was Bill Clinton when he vacuumed foreign campaign contributions from the Riadys and multiple other foreigners in 1996. Or Hillary Clinton in 2016 when her campaign financed Christopher Steele to spread Russian disinformation on Mr. Trump to the media and FBI.

Mr. Trump, in his reckless way, asked President Zelensky for the “favor” of investigating Joe Biden and tried to delay military aid. But as Senator Ron Johnson relates in his recent letter that is a more even-handed account of events, Mr. Trump’s attempts were resisted across Washington and ultimately failed.

None of this undermined elections or “endangered” U.S. national security because there was no investigation and the aid was never withheld. Even if aid had been withheld, that would merely have put U.S. policy back to where it was when Mr. Obama denied Ukraine lethal military aid for several years until Mr. Trump provided it.

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The Starr report laid out irrefutable evidence that Mr. Clinton lied to a grand jury and tampered with witnesses. Those were criminal offenses. The evidence that Richard Nixon obstructed justice was also clear once the tapes became public. By contrast, Mr. Schiff’s report mentions no specific crime and is full of too many inferences and overbroad assertions to provide a convincing impeachment case.

This explains why Mr. Schiff’s report won’t gather a single Republican vote, and why this impeachment will remain partisan. On this score, we had to smile at Mr. Schiff’s high-toned invocation of the Founding Fathers’ fear of “excessive factionalism.” He claims to be defending “democracy’ against “the power of faction” that would dare defend Mr. Trump against impeachment. Like the President, Mr. Schiff lacks the virtue of being self-aware.

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Schiff’s Surveillance State

 WSJ 12/5/2019

Democrats are trying to convince Americans that President Trump should be ousted for trying to “dig up dirt” on a rival. They’d have more credibility if they didn’t abuse their surveillance powers for drive-by smears of Republicans and a free press.

Adam Schiff’s 300-page House Intelligence impeachment report doesn’t include much new about Mr. Trump’s Ukrainian interventions. But it does disclose details of telephone calls between ranking Intelligence Republican Devin Nunes, Trump attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Jay Sekulow, reporter John Solomon, former Giuliani associate Lev Parnas, the White House, and others. The details are “metadata” about the numbers and length of the calls, not the content.

The impeachment press is playing this as if the calls are a new part of the scandal, but the real outrage here is Mr. Schiff’s snooping on political opponents. The Democrat’s motive appears to be an attempt to portray Mr. Nunes, a presidential defender and Mr. Schiff’s leading antagonist in Congress, as part of a conspiracy to commit impeachable offenses.

“It is, I think, deeply concerning, that at a time when the President of the United States was using the power of his office to dig up dirt on a political rival, that there may be evidence that there were members of Congress complicit in that activity,” Mr. Schiff told the press on Tuesday. Complicit in what? Doing his job of Congressional oversight? Talking to Mr. Trump’s lawyer to get a complete view of the Ukrainian tale? Apparently Mr. Schiff now wants to impeach Members of Congress too.

This is unprecedented and looks like an abuse of government surveillance authority for partisan gain. Democrats were caught using the Steele dossier to coax the FBI into snooping on the 2016 Trump campaign. Now we have elected members of Congress using secret subpoenas to obtain, and then release to the public, the call records of political opponents.

Our sources says Mr. Schiff issued a subpoena in September to AT& T, demanding call logs for five numbers—including Mr. Giuliani’s. Subsequent subpoenas to AT& T and Verizon demanded more details. Republicans were told of the subpoenas, yet under rules of committee secrecy couldn’t raise public objections.

Readers may recall that only a few years ago Democrats were in high dudgeon over the executive branch’s collection of metadata against terrorists. They claimed the National Security Agency was “spying” on Americans, and in 2015 Congress barred NSA from collecting bulk domestic metadata. Federal investigators must offer legitimate reasons to obtain metadata from telecom companies, and they are subject to restrictions on divulging it. Yet here the companies appear to have handed over metadata based on little more than Mr. Schiff’s sayso— and in AT& T’s case in response to a request that was made before the House began a formal impeachment inquiry. AT& T released a statement Wednesday saying it is “required by law to provide information to government and law enforcement agencies.” But AT& T can question the validity of subpoenas in court—and had grounds to do so given the highly political nature of these requests. Then again, maybe it felt it had no choice. We’ll leave it to legal experts to decide whether a powerful Congressman’s demands of a highly regulated company are extortion.

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Mr. Schiff’s metadata disclosures hardly bear on his impeachment case. Mr. Giuliani had broadcast to the world that he wanted Ukraine to investigate Hunter and Joe Biden, but he is also Mr. Trump’s personal attorney. Does Mr. Schiff have a legal opinion saying he could ignore attorney-client privilege? Imagine the political outrage if Republicans had snooped on Bill Clinton’s attorneys.

Mr. Schiff’s accusations against Mr. Nunes are even more suspect. The Democrat doesn’t know the content of Mr. Nunes’s conversations, and the Republican says he believes his spring talks with Mr. Giuliani related to the Mueller report. Mr. Nunes can speak to whomever he likes, and Mr. Schiff has no authority to investigate fellow Members. Since Mr. Schiff is going to release the call logs of Republicans, can we see the logs of his calls with the impeachment press—and, by the way, with any whistleblowers?

The press corps might also notice that Mr. Schiff’s targets include one of their own—Mr. Solomon, who was until recently a columnist at The Hill and whose reporting called attention to Ukraine’s involvement in the 2016 election. How is Mr. Solomon’s reporting trail relevant to impeachment? The media usually condemn government officials who use surveillance to track and intimidate the media, but here they are cheering Mr. Schiff on.

Mr. Schiff’s extraordinary and secret plunge into metadata, followed by its gratuitous public disclosure, is one more example of the partisan score-settling that motivates this impeachment exercise. In the cause of impeaching Donald Trump, anything goes.

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