Politics New Christianity Today editorial challenges loyalty to Trump•Christianity Today has followed up its controversial editorial criticizing President Trump with a second editorial urging fellow Christians to stop being loyal to Trump. The magazine’s president, Timothy Dalrymple, asked Christians in the new editorial „to consider whether they have given to Caesar what belongs only to God: their unconditional loyalty.” He said embracing Trump means being tied to his „corruption” and „race-baiting.”The first editorial by the magazine, which was founded by the late Rev. Billy Graham, accused Trump of „profoundly immoral” conduct and called for his impeachment. A group of more than 100 conservative evangelical Christians responded Monday with a letter calling the magazine’s position offensive, per Reuters, saying it questioned the „spiritual integrity” of tens of millions of Christian Trump supporters.
Melania Trump silently forges path through impeachment•McConnell says witnesses not ruled out in Trump impeachment trial WASHINGTON (AP) — Hillary Clinton spent the morning of her husband’s impeachment visiting Capitol Hill to rally Democrats to his side. Pat Nixon kept assuring reporters her husband wouldn’t quit — right up until he did. Eliza Johnson, frail from tuberculosis, kept watch over her husband during his impeachment while sitting in a room across from his White House office.Melania Trump, just the fourth first lady forced to grapple with the threat of her husband’s impeachment, is pressing on through the ordeal silently, showing no inclination to speak out publicly on behalf of her spouse.While her husband recently broke his own record on daily tweets and delivered his longest-ever rally speech as he was being impeached, the first lady has largely held her tongue — with the exception of a sharp tweet scolding a law professor who invoked 13-year-old Barron Trump’s name during an impeachment hearing.FILE- In this Nov. 26, 2019, file photo, President Donald, first lady Melania Trump, and Barron Trump, walk to board Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, in Washington. Melania Trump is quietly forging her way through President Donald Trump’s impeachment. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci, File)”Like every first lady, she’s sort of trying to forge her own path through this,” said Tammy Vigil, a Boston University communications professor and author of a book about Melania Trump and Michelle Obama. “In this particular case, she doesn’t really have a whole lot of history to look toward.”Melania Trump has said in the past that the president is the one the public needs to hear from since he was the one elected.And while the president has complained about the “great damage and hurt” the impeachment process has “inflicted upon wonderful and loving members of my family,” the first lady’s spokeswoman rejected the idea that Mrs. Trump has been somehow wounded.
“As always, Mrs. Trump is focused on being a mother and wife, and is busy serving our great nation,” said Stephanie Grisham, her spokeswoman. “She is very strong, and after many years now, has become used to political harassment.”
Trump is only the third U.S. president to be impeached, accused of pressuring Ukraine’s leader to investigate Trump’s political rivals as he withheld security aid approved by Congress. Trump is also accused of obstructing House efforts to investigate the matter.
The president, who insists he did nothing wrong, is unlikely to be removed from office by the Republican-controlled Senate.
A private person by nature, Melania Trump has rarely clued the public in on her thoughts, even as she weathered other difficult moments in her husband’s presidency, including the special counsel’s two-year investigation into possible collusion between Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia.
Mrs. Trump also stayed silent after a former Playboy model and an adult film actress went public with claims of having extramarital affairs with Trump before he was president. Trump has denied having the relationships.
She has followed the same pattern during impeachment.
The first lady made her first solo visit to the Capitol in October on the same day that a group of House Republicans caused a ruckus by trying to barge into a secure briefing room where three committees were hearing depositions in the case against Trump.
Instead of canceling the appearance, she proceeded to mark the anniversary of legislation the president signed to help reduce opioid use, one of her signature issues.
As she departed after the event, the first lady ignored shouted questions about how impeachment was affecting her family.
Shortly after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the beginning of a formal impeachment inquiry in late September, Melania Trump flew alone to Wyoming and spent two days promoting national parks and spending time in the outdoors for her “Be Best” youth initiative.
She has participated in numerous events since then in Washington and around the country: traveling to South Carolina with Karen Pence, the wife of Vice President Mike Pence, receiving the official White House Christmas tree and accompanying the embattled president to London, among them.
Amid the impeachment debate, she and the president also welcomed scores of lawmakers and other guests to White House Christmas receptions.
The two other presidents to be impeached, Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998, were both acquitted after trials in the Senate. Richard Nixon resigned before the House could vote to impeach him over the Watergate scandal.
Up until Nixon resigned, Pat Nixon would tell reporters that her husband wouldn’t quit, said Mary C. Brennan, author of a biography about the late first lady.
“So much of her identity was tied up with his political career, so him quitting is like her quitting and that’s not something that she would have done,” said Brennan, dean of the history department at Texas State.
Pat Nixon often answered questions by saying she only knew what she read in the newspapers.
”My mother’s greatest regret in the aftermath of Watergate was that my father did not consult her about the tapes before their existence became common knowledge,” Julie Nixon Eisenhower wrote about her mother. ”She would have urged that they be destroyed forthwith.”
And at some point, Mrs. Nixon began scaling back her public appearances because “people were yelling questions to her about impeachment” everywhere she went, added Myra Gutin, who studies first ladies at Rider University in New Jersey.
Eliza Johnson stayed on top of her husband’s impeachment, the byproduct of a post-Civil War clash with Congress. She closely read stories from a variety of newspapers and preserved them in scrapbooks, according to the National First Ladies’ Library. She is said to have always believed he would be acquitted and was overtaken with emotion when she learned the verdict.
Hillary Clinton was active in her husband’s defense in a case that revolved around his sexual relationship with a White House intern.
On the morning of the House vote in December 1998, she made a rare foray to the Capitol to privately rally Democrats. She joined the president and congressional Democrats for an appearance in the White House Rose Garden later that day after Clinton was impeached.
Hillary Clinton also used an unrelated White House appearance on the eve of the House vote to urge the nation to “practice reconciliation” and “end divisiveness.”
AP news researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York contributed to this report
Especially under Trump, public depictions of evangelicalism have tended to be binary, but lopsided: Pastors such as Robert Jeffress—the Trump-supporting pastor of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, who frequently appears on Fox News—have come to stand in for all conservative evangelicals, while profile after profile examines outspokenly progressive evangelical leaders who don’t necessarily have large constituencies. Anderson, 75, is part of a sizable group of evangelical leaders who largely get overlooked, in part because they have chosen a path of silence in politically tumultuous times.American evangelicalism is vast and diverse. Anderson certainly doesn’t speak for all evangelicals and would never claim to, but he is a decent stand-in for what you might call evangelicalism’s silent majority: those who may not see political activism as central to their religious identity, or those who might tend to vote Republican but describe themselves more as church people than party people. Some evangelical leaders who have chosen to stay out of politics in the past have felt called to speak up about what they see as Trump’s moral shortcomings: The editor in chief of Christianity Today, Mark Galli, recently published a viral editorial calling for Trump’s removal from office, which resulted in a few angry tweets from the president himself. I recently sat down with Anderson in New York City. (He and his wife, Charlene, live in Minnesota, and make an annual Christmastime pilgrimage to the city to celebrate their long-ago engagement there.) Anderson is retiring from his post at the NAE at the end of the year. We talked before the Christianity Today editorial came out, and when I followed up to see whether he had anything to add, his comment was true to form: studiously neutral and above the fray. “Evangelicals may all share the same faith,” he said, “but we don’t all share the same politics.”
Green: Let me push you on that. The NAE is not necessarily a political organization, but politics has certainly been part of its history. George W. Bush spoke to the NAE during his 2004 reelection campaign and said the organization was “doing God’s work.” Ronald Reagan gave his famous 1983 “Evil Empire” speech to the NAE.
Anderson: I was six feet away from him.
Green: Did it not seem clear then that evangelicalism was becoming more of a political movement, or at least that it was being perceived that way?
Anderson: To my knowledge, I’ve never preached a sermon that most people would consider to be political. Actually, I’m not sure if I’ve ever heard a sermon talk much about politics.I feel a pressure to portray evangelicals in terms of faith and beliefs. There’s something like 2,000 verses in the Bible that talk about the poor and the widow and the orphan and the homeless and the hungry. To me, that transcends politics. That’s what we believe, and that’s what we’ve got to do.Or immigrants. With all the teachings in the Bible about the way you treat the stranger and the immigrant, have we taken strong positions on immigration reform and Dreamers? Yeah, we have. But I don’t see it driven primarily by current political issues. I see it driven primarily by what the Bible says.
Green: The NAE is part of the Evangelical Immigration Table. That organization has, in the past few years, published letters that have openly criticized policies of the Trump administration, particularly around child detention at the border and family separation.
I’ve wondered if it feels lonely for you to be putting out letters that seem to contradict the views of a large segment of American Christians—the strong majority of white evangelicals who support more restrictive immigration laws, for example. Do you feel out of step with the zeitgeist of evangelicalism on immigration specifically?
Anderson: No. It’s back to the 2,000 verses that talk about the orphan and the widow and the lonely. I would say I’m identifying with the historic theme of biblical faith.
When we first adopted our statement on comprehensive immigration reform, I testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee and presented it. That was during the Obama administration, so, yes, there were some who did not like what we did. And we lost at least two or three denominational members that were small, with around 300 churches. But we also had strong support from denominations like the Assemblies of God, which has 13,000 churches.
That helped. They, and many of our other members, have significant numbers of immigrants in their congregations. These are their people.
Green: One of my big takeaways from reporting on evangelical communities is that, contrary to some stereotypes, evangelicals are some of the most globally minded people in America. They donate to charities that do extensive aid work overseas. They’re exposed to other countries through mission work or humanitarian trips.There seems to be a tension between this identity and the political rhetoric that has become popular on the right. This includes President Trump’s disparagement of people “from shithole countries,” or his comment earlier this year that four Democratic congresswomen of color—who are all American citizens, and only one of whom was born outside of the United States—should “go back” to the countries they came from. To me, that language is totally out of whack with the kinds of messages you’ve promoted at the NAE, and that I hear preached from pulpits across the country.
Green: I think what you’re getting at, obliquely, is the fact that polling can be a poor proxy for the lived reality of communities on the ground. People might not intuitively grasp the language pollsters are using to describe them, and pollsters split up groups of people who have strong theological similarities, such as black Christians and white Christians in the same denomination.
I hear that frustration. But white evangelicals continue to give Trump high approval ratings. They oppose his impeachment in high numbers. Do you think that’s made up, or not representative of a real phenomenon?
Anderson: I’m not questioning that there’s a significant percentage of white evangelicals who share a political persuasion. But to me the big news story is that evangelicals are virtually unanimous in believing in the authority of the Bible, the deity of Jesus Christ, and salvation through Jesus. We’re young and old, midwestern and bicoastal, black and white, Hispanic and Navajo.
Where else do you get that level of agreement on faith issues among such astonishingly different people? That message doesn’t get out there.
Green: You’re describing a picture of unity, which I think is true on certain fundamental theological issues. But on an interpersonal level, particularly among evangelical leaders, to me the story is one of fracture. Has that kind of conflict affected you at all?
Anderson: I keep coming back to the same thing. I’m going to emphasize what we do well, and base it on consensus. I’m sorry about the painful things that people say and do. I was a lifelong pastor, and I know people will say and do unbelievable stuff. If that becomes the center of attention, though, you’ve lost your core.
You can’t be controlled by the distractions. I want to be about who we are and what we’re doing.
Green: Do you think that’s sticking your head in the sand a little bit?
Anderson: No, I think it’s saying that who we are and what we believe is more important than the distractions. Most people are concerned about their children and their mortgage and their health. They care about politics, but to me, the Church and the Gospel and our relationship with God and raising your children—that’s most of your life. Everything I’m saying is coming back to politics for you, and I’m keenly aware of that. But I don’t want that to be what we’re about.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org. EMMA GREEN is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where she covers politics, policy, and religion.
(Bloomberg) — Days before a troop-funding deal was set to expire, the U.S. has dropped its demand that South Korea pay five times more to host its military personnel after receiving assurances Seoul would purchase more American weapons, a newspaper report said.
The Trump administration also likely eased up after South Korea indicated it would step up its presence in the Strait of Hormuz, helping U.S. efforts to protect oil flows in the region, South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo newspaper reported Thursday, citing an unidentified diplomatic source. The increase now may be about 10-20% above the current level of nearly $1 billion, it said.
South Korea’s foreign ministry declined to comment on the report.
Last month, U.S. negotiators walked out of a meeting on troop funding in Seoul after South Korea balked at the five-fold increase seen as exorbitant by many in the country. The breakdown at that time raised questions about one of the U.S.’s closest military alliances and a key piece of the Pentagon’s strategy for countering North Korea and a rising China. The two sides resumed talks in December.
U.S. Walks Out of Military Cost-Sharing Talks With South Korea
Even though the deal known as the Special Measures Agreement technically expires at the end of this year, both sides are likely to agree to some sort of temporary extension as they negotiate, allowing for the continued operations of the about 28,500 U.S. military personnel positioned on the peninsula.
The talks with South Korea could affect other countries that host U.S. troops, as the Trump administration is seeking funding increases from other American allies.
Trump Price Tag for Troops in South Korea Clouds Esper Trip
Trump, arguing that South Korea is rich and should pay more for U.S. protection, has demanded Seoul contribute about $5 billion for hosting U.S. troops. The price tag originated with the White House, according to people familiar with the matter, and administration officials justify it by saying it reflects the costs South Korea would incur if it takes operational control of combined U.S.-South Korean forces in the case of a conflict.
The request for more money hasn’t sat well in South Korea, where many in President Moon Jae-in’s progressive camp and opposition conservatives have come out against the demands. Moon, facing a sagging support rate, may not want to make any major concessions that further dent his popularity ahead of an election for parliament next year.
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To contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org, Jon Herskovitz, Gearoid Reidy
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The U.S. also has repeatedly warned Congress about hypersonic missiles being developed by Russia and China that will be harder to track and defeat. U.S. officials have talked about putting a layer of sensors in space to more quickly detect enemy missiles, particularly the more advanced hypersonic threats. The administration also plans to study the idea of basing interceptors in space, so the U.S. can strike incoming enemy missiles during the first minutes of flight when the booster engines are still burning.
Asked to comment on Putin’s remarks, a spokesman for the U.S. Defense Department, Lt. Col. Robert Carver, said Tuesday in an email, “We have seen the reporting but have nothing to add concerning Russia’s claims.”
Putin said that the first unit equipped with the Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle is set to go on duty this month, while the air-launched Kinzhal hypersonic missiles already have entered service.
The Russian leader first mentioned the Avangard and the Kinzhal among other prospective weapons systems in his state-of-the-nation address in March 2018.
Putin said then that the Avangard has an intercontinental range and can fly in the atmosphere at a speed 20 times the speed of sound. He noted that the weapon’s ability to change both its course and its altitude en route to a target makes it immune to interception by the the enemy.
“It’s a weapon of the future, capable of penetrating both existing and prospective missile defense systems,” Putin said Tuesday.
The Kinzhal, which is carried by MiG-31 fighter jets, entered service with the Russian air force last year. Putin has said that the missile flies 10 times faster than the speed of sound, has a range of more than 2,000 kilometers (1,250 miles) and can carry a nuclear or a conventional warhead. The military said it’s capable of hitting both land targets and navy ships.
The United States and other countries also have worked on designing hypersonic weapons, but they haven’t entered service yet.
The Kremlin has made military modernization its top priority amid tensions with the West that followed the 2014 Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea.
Putin on Tuesday described a buildup of NATO’s forces near Russia’s western borders and the U.S. withdrawal earlier this year from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty among top security threats.
He argued that Russia must have the best weapons in the world.
“It’s not a chess game where it’s OK to play to a draw,” he said. “Our technology must be better. We can achieve that in key areas and we will.”
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu reported Tuesday that the military this year has received 143 warplanes and helicopters, 624 armored vehicles, a submarine and eight surface warships. He said that the modernization of Russia’s arsenals will continue at the same rapid pace next year, with 22 intercontinental ballistic missiles, 106 new aircraft, 565 armored vehicles, three submarines and 14 surface ships to enter duty.
Putin noted that the work to develop other prospective weapons, including the Sarmat heavy intercontinental ballistic missile, the Poseidon nuclear-powered underwater drone and the Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile was going according to plan.
The Burevestnik has stoked particular controversy. The U.S. and the Soviet Union worked on nuclear-powered rocket engines during the Cold War, but they eventually spiked those projects considering them to be too hazardous.
The Burevestnik reportedly suffered an explosion in August during tests at a Russian navy range on the White Sea, killing five nuclear engineers and two servicemen and resulting in a brief spike in radioactivity that fueled radiation fears in a nearby city. Russian officials never named the weapon involved in the incident, but the U.S. said it was the Burevestnik.