Wayne Grudem wrote an article published yesterday with Townhall entitled, “Trump Should Not Be Removed from Office: A Response to Mark Galli and Christianity Today.” It is Grudem’s response to retiring CT editor-in-chief Mark Galli’s much publicized and controversial article published in CT the day after the House of Representatives impeached President Donald Trump.
Dr. Wayne Grudem is “Distinguished Research Professor of Theology and Biblical Studies” at Phoenix Seminary in Arizona. I know Dr. Grudem. Since I live in this area, I have used their library a lot. Phoenix Seminary is an evangelical institution that is not associated with any particular church denomination.
Grudem begins his article by listing six reasons Galli provides in his article for why he thinks Trump should be removed from office. Grudem then proceeds to attempt to refute those reasons. Grudem begins by arguing concerning the Trump-Zelensky phone call on July 25th this year, saying Trump did not try to “coerce a foreign leader,” as Galli claims and the House decided. If you have been following this episode along with the impeachment of Trump, you know that the House brought two articles of impeachment against Trump: (1) abuse of power and (2) obstruction of justice and that this phone call was the main evidence alleged for both.
The argument between Democrats and Republicans centers on whether or not Trump committed a quid pro quo (“this for that”) in requiring Zelensky to announce an Ukrainian investigation into the Bidens and that Trump withheld needed foreign aid of $391 million, designated by Congress, until that happened. On this phone call, Trump did not ask Zelensky to investigate the Bidens, only that he announce such publicly. Indeed, this was affirmed by witnesses in the House impeachment hearings. Yet Grudem says Trump asked Zelensky to investigate. Also, Grudem omitted the key Trump phrase to Zelensky, “I would like you to do us a favor, though.” Trump next spoke of investigating the Bidens. Democrats claim Trump did this since former Vice President Joe Biden had just announced his campaign for the presidency. In doing so, Biden became Trump’s foremost Democratic challenger in the 2020 election.
Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, had been employed on the board of a Ukrainian gas company for a $600,000 annual salary. So, Grudem said, “it seems to me reasonable for officials of the U.S. government to investigate whether there was any corrupt dealing connected to Hunter Biden receiving more than half a million dollars a year.” What! Some corporate American CEOs are paid hundreds of millions of dollars per year, and you think young Biden should be investigated for a $600,000 yearly salary?
Grudem then quotes the Constitution saying of the president that he “‘shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed’ (Art. II, Sec. 1, 3). That implies the president is empowered to investigate allegations of illegal activity. And (I speak here as an ordinary citizen, not an expert) I know of nothing in our Constitution or laws that says there is anything wrong with seeking help from a foreign government in investigating possible corruption.”
Grudem seems to presume that this Constitution article means not only “the laws” of the USA but also the laws of Ukraine, or any other nation, against corruption in its own country. I beg to differ. This is not the same thing as requiring Ukraine to clean up its corruption in order the U.S. to continue its aid, which Joe Biden did and it did not benefit him politically at home. Rather, President Obama sent him to deliver this message, and it had been agreed to by our U.S. allies.Furthermore, Grudem ignores the main allegation against Trump in doing this, that his motive was to tarnish his political opponent publicly in view of the 2020 election. That would not be protecting our electoral system from influence by a foreign government. Thus, Trump’s request from Zelensky could be “bribery” or “other high crimes and misdemeanors.” It is up to Congress to decide whether or not it is. Yet Grudem ignores this important issue about foreign interference in our election.
Grudem then cites critics saying Trump was wrong by asking Zelensky “to investigate Biden for the sake of personal political benefit” for Trump. Grudem responds, “I see nothing wrong with the president doing things that will bring him personal, political benefit.” But Grudem does not distinguish between doing this within the confines of the political process in our country compared to doing so by means of a foreign country.
In fact, the reason special counsel Robert Mueller conducted his nearly two-year investigation, and issued his 448-page report about it, was that there was plenty of evidence suggesting that there may have been collusion during the 2016 presidential campaign for the presidency between Trump and his aids with Russian government operatives. Although Mueller concluded in his report that they could not find any certain wrongdoing, he nevertheless stated that they could not exonerate Trump. Yet despite this investigation into Trump possibly using Russia for political benefit, Grudem’s statement above indicates that he believes Trump could have done so and not broken any U.S. laws or violated the Constitution. Since Grudem seems to be a Republican, I doubt he would have so concluded if we were talking about a Democrat.
Grudem continues this line of thought regarding the remaining five reasons Galli alleged. Grudem therefore says Trump’s request to Zelensky was “not immoral” as Galli has alleged.
Two days after the Access Hollywood video was released, in which Trump spoke of his sexual harrassment of women, using vulgarity, Grudem penned an article in Townhall in which he denounced, calling for him to withdraw from the campaign. Yet Grudem says he voted for Trump anyway.
Grudem’s article is lengthy, so I will not bore you with more about this. Most of its remainder is about Trump’s alleged immoral character with especially women and lying. Grudem concludes this article by saying, “I’ll vote again for Trump.”
I think Galli is more on the side of truth about all of this than Grudem is. It does show, as I blogged the last time on this subject, that evangelicals are quite divided about this, and this disagreement is finding its way into the media.