Rev. Franklin Graham, the son of the late Rev. Billy Graham, took to social media to complain about Donald Trump’s second impeachment, but not just the impeachment, but the ten Republicans who voted for it. He wrote, “Shame, shame on the ten Republicans who joined with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats in impeaching President Trump yesterday. After all that he has done for our country, you would turn your back and betray him so quickly?”
Graham then fired off a list of Trump’s accomplishments. His rhetoric hit its highest heat when he asks, “And these ten, from his own party, joined in the feeding frenzy. It makes you wonder what the thirty pieces of silver were that Speaker Pelosi promised for this betrayal.”
There are two big problems with Graham’s statement. First, it’s borderline sacrilegious for a Christian minister to invoke the betrayal of the Lord in a discussion of Donald Trump’s impeachment. Second, it’s an example of Christian leaders spending time around Trump and becoming like Trump. The statement accuses these ten members of Congress of receiving a quid pro quo to betray Trump to Nancy Pelosi.
It’s couched in a very Trumpian way so Reverend Graham can later gaslight us by saying, “I didn’t say they took a bribe. It just makes you wonder if they did” when he, in reality, said “I wonder what bribe they got,” not “if they did.”
It also implies the only reason these members of Congress could be moved to vote for impeachment was that the Democrats had corrupted them. It’s inconceivable to Rev. Graham that they could have a non-corrupt reason, even though these members of Congress have explained their reasoning. U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera-Beutler, R-WA, laid her reasons out in a Twitter thread citing the President’s lying to the American public about the elections and Vice President Mike Pence’s ability to overturn the results. He organized a rally to attract them, worked them to a frenzy, and set them onto the U.S. Capitol building leading to the mob invading the Capitol, Congress fleeing, and five deaths. Herrera-Bueller also said that the President neglected his duty to protect U.S. citizens and that while this was all going on, “the only action we know the president took was calling GOP Senators, seeking their support to delay the Electoral College certification.”
Even if you want to argue that members’ motives weren’t as pure as they indicate, it’d be far more likely that members were angered that President Trump placed their lives in jeopardy and never apologized for it after most stood by him throughout his administration.
Yet, I doubt this is mere pique at Trump’s reckless endangerment of their lives because members of Congress are facing the consequences. U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., has been condemned by her state party and has had U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and others call for her ouster. Others are fielding angry calls, being condemned by political allies, and on talk radio. It’s almost certain that some of these members have won their last election and will be ousted at the next primary election, and they may lose more than that.
The only thing any of these members have gotten from Nancy Pelosi is her assurance that body armor is a reimbursable expense for members of Congress.
Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., warned his caucus not to criticize colleagues who voted for impeachment because it would endanger their colleagues’ lives by inflaming more violence. This makes Rev. Graham’s casual slander of these members even worse. Those who talk and write about politics should be properly chastened to be careful with loose allegations after what happened at the Capitol as a result of the President’s inflammatory lies about the election. Graham is suggesting without evidence to millions of followers that these members were acting out of a corrupt motive. By doing so, he’s endangering the lives of these members of Congress and the lives of their families.
Franklin Graham should individually and publicly apologize to these members for his reckless statement. He’s free to disagree with their vote, and he’s free to advocate for their replacement. However, as one of the country’s most prominent Christian leaders, he shouldn’t be engaged in malicious gossip. Throughout his life, he’s done amazing work sharing the gospel and leading an organization that has impacted thousands of lives around the world. I fear he’s undoing much of the positive impact he’s made through his intemperate behavior over the last few years.