Christian Magazine Calls for Trump’s Removal: Impeachment Update

John Harney and Erik Wasson

(Bloomberg) -- The Senate must decide the timing and structure of the trial to be held early next year after President Donald Trump was impeached by the House on charges of abusing his power and obstructing Congress’s investigation.

Here are the latest developments:

Christianity Today Backs Trump’s Ouster (7:45 p.m.)

A magazine for evangelical Christians, whose support for President Donald Trump has been ardent and unshakable, has called for his removal from office.

Christianity Today, which was founded by the late Rev. Billy Graham, said in an editorial published on Thursday that “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,” the editorial added, “is that this president has dumbed down the idea of morality in his administration.”

The piece, by Mark Galli, the magazine’s editor in chief, acknowledged that evangelical Christians 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.”

But the editorial said that “none of the president’s positives can balance the moral and political danger we face under a leader of such grossly immoral character.”

Graham’s son and successor, the Rev. Franklin Graham, has been a staunch backer of Trump.

Galli, who has announced that he will retire in January, included an excerpt from a 1998 editorial on the failings of President Bill Clinton as he faced impeachment proceedings. He concluded with a poker analogy, warning that “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.”

McConnell Says Trial Rule Talks at Impasse (6:10 p.m.)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer are at an impasse over impeachment trial procedures, including Democrats’ demand to call witnesses.

Schumer wants Republicans to agree to call four current and former White House officials as witnesses. McConnell says the Senate should follow the procedure used in the 1999 trial of President Bill Clinton and leave the decision of witnesses to be decided mid-trial.

“As of today, however, we remain at an impasse,” McConnell said.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said earlier Thursday she’s not ready to send the impeachment articles to the Senate, saying she’s waiting to see whether Republicans will agree to a “fair” trial process.

McConnell said some Democrats are implying that they may gain leverage by withholding the articles, and that some prefer never sending them to the Senate.

“I’m not sure what leverage there is in refraining from sending us something we do not want,” the majority leader said. “We’ll see whether House Democrats ever want to work up the courage to actually take their accusations to trial.”

Schumer Presses for Witnesses at Trump Trial (5:15 p.m.)

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer asked Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to reconsider over the holidays Democrats’ request for documents and testimony from four witnesses in a Senate impeachment trial, Schumer’s spokesman said.

“Senator Schumer made clear to Senator McConnell that the witnesses and documents are necessary to ensure a fair trial in the Senate,” said Schumer spokesman Justin Goodman in a statement.

The statement came after the two leaders met Thursday to discuss how a trial might be conducted. McConnell earlier rejected Schumer’s request to hear from four current and former Trump administration officials, including former White House National Security Advisor John Bolton and acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said earlier Thursday she may wait to send the two articles of impeachment to the Senate, saying she’s waiting to see whether Republicans will agree to a “fair” trial process.

McConnell has been pushing for a process that likely won’t include any witnesses. He told reporters he’ll make a statement on the Senate floor on the matter later Thursday, when he’s also expected to announce when the Senate will return to work next month.

Trump Says Van Drew Switch to GOP ‘Big Deal’ (3:09 p.m.)

Trump announced that Democratic Representative Jeff Van Drew is switching parties to become a Republican after he voted against impeaching the president on Wednesday.

Van Drew of New Jersey joined Trump in the Oval Office on Thursday in a meeting that the White House opened to reporters.

“To me, it’s a very exciting announcement,” Trump said. “It’s a big deal.”

Later, in an interview at the Capitol, Van Drew said he has completed the paperwork to become a Republican, and that Trump pledged to support him in the GOP primary in his district next year.

The lawmaker said he told the president that he will continue to support abortion rights for the first two trimesters of pregnancy.

Asked whether he still believes Trump’s July 25 call with the president of Ukraine was inappropriate, as he had said earlier, Van Drew said he does, describing it as “a less-than-perfect call.” -- Jennifer J. Jacobs, Erik Wasson

Pelosi Cites Precedent for Delay on Managers (11:07 a.m.)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said there’s precedent for her decision to delay announcing her list of House impeachment managers until the Senate decides the trial process it will use.

“The next thing for us will be when we see the process set forth in the Senate,“ Pelosi said. “Then we will know the number of managers that we have to send forward“ and who they will be.

She cited the negotiations surrounding President Bill Clinton‘s impeachment trial, when she said the Senate first adopted a bipartisan trial plan.

“When we see what we have, we will know who and how many we will send over,” she said, referring to the trial managers.

Trump tweeted while Pelosi was speaking, saying, “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!”

Pelosi said she has “a spring in my step” because of the House’s moral courage in voting for impeachment.

Responding to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s comments slamming the impeachment, Pelosi said the nation’s founders expected the nation might one day have a “rogue president.”

“I don’t think they expected that we’d have a rogue president and a rogue leader of the Senate at the same time,” she said. -- Daniel Flatley and Steven T. Dennis

Schumer Says McConnell Plans ‘Unfair’ Trial (10:32 a.m.)

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer accused Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of hypocrisy and said he’s planning to hold “the most rushed, least thorough and most unfair impeachment trial in history.“

Schumer said his message to fellow senators is, “Do you want a fair trial, or do you want the president to do whatever he wants regardless of the rule of law?”

Schumer asked whether McConnell will strong-arm Republicans into blocking witnesses and documents, making it the first impeachment trial in history without a single witness.

“Is the president’s case so weak that none of the president’s men can defend him under oath?” Schumer said.

Schumer said he plans to meet with McConnell, and that Democrats are proposing four witnesses with four hours of testimony per witness. He said he’s proposing strict time limits for other parts of the trial as well.

Schumer called McConnell hypocritical for accusing House Democrats of being motivated by partisan rage when McConnell has declared he won’t be impartial in running the impeachment trial.

The minority leader said failing to hold Trump to account would grant him “two new rights -- the right to use the government for personal purposes and the right to ignore Congress at his pleasure.”

“If we tell the president that he can escape scrutiny in this instance, he will do it again and again and again. Future presidents will take note and do worse,” Schumer said. -- Steven T. Dennis and Daniel Flatley

McConnell Slams ‘Partisan Rage’ in House (10:04 a.m.)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the House impeachment of Trump was “constitutionally incoherent” and “could unsettle the foundations” of American government.

“This particular House of Representatives has let its partisan rage at this particular president create a toxic precedent that will echo far into the future,” McConnell said.

The nation’s two previous presidential impeachments were based on a president’s alleged violation of criminal law even though it’s not required, the majority leader said. This time, he said, “they’ve impeached simply because they disagree with a presidential act and question the motive behind it.”

McConnell faulted the charge of obstructing Congress, saying Trump “simply did not roll over” when the House demanded testimony and documents.

“It’s not a constitutional crisis for a House to want more information than a president wants to give up,” he said. Ordinarily, both sides would either negotiate an agreement or go to court to resolve the dispute, he said.

McConnell described House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s suggestion that the House might not immediately send the impeachment articles to the Senate as a sign that the House may be “Second-guessing whether they even want to go to trial.”

“This is really comical,” he said.

McConnell said that if the nation accepts the impeachment of Trump, “presidential impeachment may cease being a once-in-a-generation event“ and become “just another part of the arms race of polarization.”

“The Senate’s duty is clear,” he said. “The Senate must put this right.” -- Daniel Flatley and Erik Wasson

McConnell to Criticize ‘Most Unfair’ Inquiry in Floor Speech (8:53 a.m.)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will lay out his criticism of Democrats’ impeachment inquiry Thursday morning, in a floor speech calling the probe “the most rushed, least thorough, and most unfair impeachment inquiry in modern history.”

According to excerpts of the remarks provided by his office, McConnell will say the two House-passed impeachment articles are “fundamentally unlike any articles that any prior House of Representatives has ever passed.”

He’ll accuse Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and his fellow Democrats of backpedaling and “searching for ways the Senate could step out” of its proper role in the upcoming trial and say that Speaker Nancy Pelosi “may be too afraid to even transmit” the House’s “shoddy work product to the Senate.”

”Moments like this are why the United States Senate exists,” he’ll say. -- Erik Wasson

Pelosi, Schumer to Meet on Impeachment Strategy (8:12)

Schumer and Pelosi will meet at the Capitol at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday to discuss their impeachment strategy, according to a person familiar with their plans.

The meeting in Pelosi’s office comes as Democrats are mapping out a strategy ahead of a trial in the Republican-led Senate.

It wasn’t clear Wednesday night how quickly the House would send the articles of impeachment to the Senate, a step that would trigger the trial and stop work on any other matters. Pelosi said she was holding off naming House managers for the trial “until we see what the process is in the Senate.”

Trump renewed his allegations that Democrats are engaged in presidential harassment in a series of Thursday morning tweets.

“Now the Do Nothing Party want to Do Nothing with the Articles & not deliver them to the Senate, but it’s Senate’s call!,” Trump said. -- Laura Litvan

Catch Up on Impeachment Coverage

Key Events

The House impeached Trump Wednesday on charges of abuse of power and obstructing Congress, making him only the third U.S. president to be impeached. The Senate will hold a trial early next year.The House impeachment resolution is H.Res. 755. The Intelligence Committee Democrats’ impeachment report is here.Gordon Sondland’s transcript is here and here; Kurt Volker’s transcript is here and here. Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch’s transcript is here and here; the transcript of Michael McKinley, former senior adviser to the secretary of State, is here. The transcript of David Holmes, a Foreign Service officer at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, is here.The transcript of William Taylor, the top U.S. envoy to Ukraine, is here and here. State Department official George Kent’s testimony is here and here. Testimony by Alexander Vindman can be found here, and the Fiona Hill transcript is here. Laura Cooper’s transcript is here; Christopher Anderson’s is here and Catherine Croft’s is here. Jennifer Williams’ transcript is here and Timothy Morrison’s is here. The Philip Reeker transcript is here. Mark Sandy’s is here.

--With assistance from Jennifer Jacobs, Daniel Flatley, Steven T. Dennis and Laura Litvan.

To contact the reporters on this story: John Harney in Washington at jharney2@bloomberg.net;Erik Wasson in Washington at ewasson@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Joe Sobczyk at jsobczyk@bloomberg.net, Laurie Asséo, John Harney

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