Return to Transcripts main page
Evangelical Magazine Calls For Trump's Removal From Office; Beyond The Call Of Duty: Colorado Police Officer Donates Liver To Boy, Launches Fundraiser; President Trump Implies Late Rep. John Dingell May Be "Looking Up" From Hell. Aired 7:30-8a ET
Aired December 20, 2019 - 07:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: It is part of this brand-new editorial that says, in part, "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."
Joining me now is Mark Galli, the editor in chief of "Christianity Today," who wrote this editorial. And, Mark, I want to tell you the president just weighed in on Twitter and I will read you that response in just a moment.
First, though, let me read a section for -- I just read that section for you where you laid out why this is important. And you say it's not a matter of politics; it's a matter of faith. Why?
MARK GALLI, EDITOR IN CHIEF, CHRISTIANITY TODAY: Well, because there are times, of course, when there are issues that transcend politics. So this -- and to me, this is one of them.
I mean, I grant that the Democrats have been partisan in their efforts to remove the president and, at times, I think have been unfair. There's no question about that. But in this particular instance, the facts that arose in the impeachment hearings rise above that partisan level.
And one of the things I'm trying to say in the editorial is this is reality. No matter what -- how it came about or the motives that helped it come about, this is the world we live in and this is the president we have and we need to deal with that honestly.
BERMAN: You take a step beyond the politics here and you say his actions are flat out immoral.
GALLI: Yes. I don't think that's a particularly unusual or surprising insight. I mean, people have been saying that for some time.
The question is when does his behavior, which is described as immoral, accurately, rise to the level where he is no longer fit to serve office? And, to me, we crossed that line with the impeachment hearings.
BERMAN: Let me read to you now what the president just wrote about you and your magazine.
He says, "A far-left magazine, or very 'progressive' as some would call it, which has been doing poorly and hasn't been involved with the Billy Graham family for many years, Christianity Today, knows nothing about reading a perfect transcript of a routine phone call and would rather have a radical left nonbeliever who wants to take your religion and your guns, than Donald Trump as your president.
No president has done more for the evangelical community and it's not even close. You'll not get anything from those Dems on stage."
And then he goes on to say, "I won't be reading ET again!" I don't know whether he means "ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT" or extraterrestrials. Your magazine is "Christianity Today," which is known as CT.
GALLI: Correct, yes.
Well, I suppose it could be somewhat complimentary that the president thought it was worth commenting on. Naturally, I disagree with him on about seven or eight different levels.
His characterization of us as being far-left is far from accurate. We consider ourselves, and most people consider us a pretty centrist magazine in the evangelical world. We're certainly not far-right and I suppose anyone who is not far-right he would consider far-left, and that's his right to say that. But it's factually inaccurate that we're far-left.
We're pretty centrist. We rarely comment on politics unless we feel it rises to the level of some national or concern that is really important, and this would be a case.
We wrote editorials about Clinton during his impeachment process. We wrote editorials about Nixon during his. This struck me as rising to that level and I needed to comment.
BERMAN: And again, as he pointed out, the magazine was founded by the late Rev. Billy Graham, which really seems to bother him that you're making these comments now, so he's trying to create distance between the Grahams and you.
I was struck by another aspect of your editorial. Let me just read this.
You say, "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." To me, you are saying here this isn't just about President Trump; this is about you. Why do you think it was important to say that?
GALLI: Well, because as a Christian, I like to think of myself as a person who has given my ultimate loyalty to Jesus Christ and the gospel he's called us to proclaim. So when Christians of any stripe support a cause that strikes me as manifestly immoral, it does damage to the cause that I've given my life to.
So I think that's one part of the equation that all Christians, especially my brothers and sisters in the evangelical world, need to think about more seriously and more deeply.
BERMAN: He does have an enormous base of support among, particularly, the white evangelical community. Do you really see that changing?
GALLI: Oh, no. I mean, I don't have any imaginations that my editorial is going to shift their views on this matter.
I mean, the fact of the matter is "Christianity Today" is not read by the people on the far -- Christians on the far-right -- by evangelicals on the far-right. So they're going to be as dismissive of the magazine as President Trump has shown to be. So, no, I don't think that's going to happen -- maybe, you know, a few individuals.
It's mostly an opportunity for "Christianity Today" to -- and I'm speaking for "Christianity Today" -- I mean, it's my editorial. I'm the editor in chief. I got permission -- or not permission, but sign- off from the CEO and got edited by the people that it is my considered opinion that this something we need -- as a movement, need to think about and pray about at this time in our life.
BERMAN: During the final arguments on impeachment we did hear from some Republican members on the House floor who seemed to be comparing the President of the United States to Jesus Christ.
Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. BARRY LOUDERMILK (R-GA): When Jesus was falsely accused of treason, Pontius Pilate gave Jesus the opportunity to face his accusers. During that sham trial, Pontius Pilate afforded more rights to Jesus than the Democrats have afforded this president and this process.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: You know, I have to say it's not the first time we've heard comparisons like this. What do you make of that?
GALLI: Well, that's just part of the political theater in America. I mean, I don't take it all that seriously. I'm not quite sure he was equating President Trump with Jesus Christ.
He was trying to equate -- he was using that as an example of what was -- what he considers to be an unjust trial.
I take such political rhetoric with a grain of salt and I'm not going to hold him to the fact that he actually thinks Donald Trump is the equivalent of Jesus Christ. That -- I think upon questioning, he would think that's absurd.
BERMAN: You're stepping down from "Christianity Today" very soon. I just wonder what you want your ultimate legacy to be with this editorial as you step aside.
GALLI: I guess if I have any control over my legacy or any wish for it, it would be that "Christianity Today" -- when the opportunity presented itself to speak the truth clearly and charitably, we did it. We didn't shirk our duty and we did what we were called to do. So I'm hoping that will be our legacy -- or my legacy.
BERMAN: Mark Galli, it's nice to have you on this morning. Very interesting to get your perspective. Thank you for being here and in real time hearing the response from the President of the United States to the stand that you've taken -- appreciate it.
GALLI: You're welcome. Thank you for having me.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Really interesting conversation and we will continue to have that conversation over the next hour and a half because that was very unusual, what he did in that editorial.
Also coming up, an officer going beyond the call of duty, donating life and so much more to a family in need.
CAMEROTA: In Colorado, an 11-year-old boy in declining health getting a second chance at life thanks to a police officer who went beyond the call of duty. She donated part of her liver, but her generosity did not stop there.
CNN's Lucy Kafanov has the story.
CLYDE HOFFMAN, 12-YEAR-OLD WHO RECEIVED LIVER TRANSPLANT FROM COLORADO POLICE OFFICER: This is an E-8 prowler.
LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There are few 12-year- olds who know as much about aviation as Clyde Hoffman.
HOFFMAN: Yes, it's really beautiful -- just the curvature and everything.
KAFANOV (voice-over): But it's not just his knowledge of planes that makes him special --
HOFFMAN: Don't shoot this. This is a nuclear bomb, probably not activated though.
KAFANOV (voice-over): -- it's the fact that he's standing here at all.
HOFFMAN: I was very thin and I was basically kind of yellowish -- jaundiced.
KAFANOV (voice-over): Clyde was born with Alagille syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that affects the organs.
MELISSA HOFFMAN, MOTHER OF CLYDE HOFFMAN: His liver was probably functioning only at 10 percent.
KAFANOV (on camera): How bad did things get?
MARK HOFFMAN, FATHER OF CLYDE HOFFMAN: He could barely keep 200-250 calories down.
KAFANOV (voice-over): In the summer of 2018, the illness nearly claimed his life. He had to be put on a feeding tube and Colorado's transplant waiting list. Without a new liver, parents Mark and Melissa feared the worst.
MELISSA HOFFMAN: He would have died for sure.
KAFANOV (voice-over): Wait times can often stretch into years. But a month later, a miracle -- a match from a living stranger.
MARK HOFFMAN: I can remember the day of the surgery and looking across the campus over to where I knew the -- that whoever this person was was on a slab having their liver removed -- or a portion of it. And I'd never met her and there was a connection somehow.
CAROLYN BECKER, POLICE OFFICER, BROOMFIELD, COLORADO: I knew that there were kids out there that could use the help. And I'm healthy and had the means to be able to donate.
KAFANOV (voice-over): That mystery donor, Broomfield, Colorado police officer Carolyn Becker.
BECKER: We're never off-duty. Whether I'm wearing my uniform or not, if I see somebody in need I'm going to help. And that true in this case, too. I saw an opportunity to help somebody.
KAFANOV (on camera): You knew that could save a life.
KAFANOV (voice-over): Doctors removed a portion of Officer Becker's liver and transplanted it into Clyde. His improvement, almost immediate.
HOFFMAN: My jaundice and my yellow eyes went completely away. And the first time I ate a meal, I ate all of it, and that was amazing.
KAFANOV (voice-over): The story almost ended there until a special thank-you note arrived in Officer Becker's mailbox seven months later. "Dear donor, thank you so much for my chance at a new life. I never could imagine this happening."
KAFANOV (voice-over): After searching online, Becker learned that the Hoffmans, who live nearly two hours away in Colorado Springs, were saddled with huge medical bills.
BECKER: I knew there was more I could do to help.
KAFANOV (on camera): And what did you decide to do?
BECKER: Thank you. That will be so helpful for him -- thanks. Have a good day.
I decided to stand on the side of the road with a sign, much like panhandling.
Thank you, hi.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What a wonderful thing you did.
BECKER: Thank you. I appreciate that.
KAFANOV (voice-over): Raising more than $10,000, one donation at a time.
HOFFMAN: This is a EA-68 --
BECKER: Oh, this place is cool.
HOFFMAN: -- prowler.
KAFANOV (voice-over): So when Clyde and Officer Becker finally met more than a year after the surgery, the Hoffmans had a lot to be thankful for.
MELISSA HOFFMAN: It's hard to have words for all of it. I think that's why, like the first week, tears would come because how -- it's a heartfelt decision.
HOFFMAN: And you can see there's just like a lot of piping and tubing.
BECKER: You want to tell people, yes, go donate. Donate your organs. Now I can truly say go donate.
KAFANOV (on camera): Do you think she went above and beyond the call as a police officer and as a human? HOFFMAN: Yes, I think so. I mean, donating an organ, that's pretty big.
KAFANOV (voice-over): A big gift from a big-hearted stranger -- now, a friend for life.
Lucy Kafanov, CNN, Broomfield, Colorado.
BERMAN: What I love about that is it's not just the gift of the liver but the gift of friendship and the bond that they now have. What a lovely, lovely story.
CAMEROTA: I want to be friends with him.
BERMAN: I have to say --
CAMEROTA: Do you think he has enough room for me?
BERMAN: He's so cheery.
CAMEROTA: I know.
BERMAN: Also, just a reminder, which we learned this year with some of our own colleagues, you can be a living donor of a liver. It grows back. You can give part of your liver -- it's something to consider -- for people in need.
CAMEROTA: As you know, President Trump went after the late congressman, John Dingell and his widow, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, this week.
Up next, we find out why President Trump is resorting to that tactic from someone who spent a year closely following Donald Trump.
CAMEROTA: The president facing bipartisan condemnation for his attack on the late Democratic congressman John Dingell and his widow, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell. What is it about President Trump that he peddles in such personal, nasty attacks?
Joining us now to discuss is Tony Schwartz. He co-authored "The Art of the Deal" with President Trump.
Tony, it's always great to have you on and get your unique perspective. You spent 18 months basically shadowing --
TONY SCHWARTZ, CO-AUTHOR, "TRUMP: THE ART OF THE DEAL": Correct.
CAMEROTA: -- Donald Trump.
So you know this person very well -- as well as somebody outside of his immediate family could. So what is it? Why does he resort to the nasty personal attacks that he does?
SCHWARTZ: I mean, it's all about character and it's all about the nature of his internal sense of emptiness. He's like a balloon that you put a little pin in and he's constantly leaking self-worth and blowing it up. And so, whatever he can do to -- he is literally the king of the bully pulpit in the most literal way. Bully and overwhelm all the time.
CAMEROTA: Here's how you two -- you and he or perhaps just you, if you wrote the book singlehandedly -- spun it back in 1987 in "The Art of the Deal."
"When people treat me badly or unfairly or try to take advantage of me, my general attitude, all my life, has been to fight back very hard. The risk is you'll make a bad situation worse, and I certainly don't recommend this approach to everyone. But my experience is that if you're fighting for something you believe in, even it means alienating some people along the way, things usually work out for the best in the end."
SCHWARTZ: Well, you could argue that that's come true for him, personally. And I think I would have put in that sentence, myself, about you have to be careful or it doesn't always work out. I don't think he would have believed that.
You know, I was, last night, at a -- gave a -- gave a talk at a group that included a number of middle and older -- middle-aged and older Orthodox Jews and college students. And I was stunned -- this is in Brooklyn, a liberal capital of the world. I was stunned that a third of that audience was pro-Trump and that they felt after this impeachment hearing, more pro-Trump than they've been before.
CAMEROTA: Passionately -- they were passionately pro-Trump.
SCHWARTZ: They were and they are -- they will repeat, in the most alarming ways, his talking points, his lies. And it really did -- I know -- I never want to say this but it really did make me think of the big lie. That was Hitler in "Mein Kampf." That was Gobels -- Goebbels.
CAMEROTA: But what were they repeating of his talking points that had worked --
SCHWARTZ: They were repeating the idea that the left has gone -- the liberals and the left have gone off the deep end. That it doesn't matter whether he, himself, is not a role model or if he is violating moral precepts. You build your moral precepts in your home and who cares what they're doing. That all that matters is prosperity and safety.
And that Trump has -- fear Trump's decency. Trump has done a remarkable job at driving up the fear, which has driven down even people's basic decent impulses. That sense of not in my backyard -- let me just protect myself -- is more intense and acute than it's ever been.
CAMEROTA: And what is it about his unique communication skills that his talking points stick like that?
SCHWARTZ: OK. So if you were on a football field playing against another team -- Trump's on one side, you're on the other side -- but you -- your rules -- your Trump rules are you can run outside the sidelines, you can sucker punch people on the field, you can deny the score. You have an enormous advantage.
And, Trump's advantage is he will take two or three things -- you can see it this morning, again, in his tweet about "Christianity Today" -- and he will repeat those things over and over and over again, and he will do it like Humpty Dumpty until you -- you know, until everything falls down.
CAMEROTA: So it's sloganeering -- it's effective sloganeering. And what I hear you saying, it's effective sloganeering and it's repetition of a simple message and that sticks.
SCHWARTZ: Right. You are at a disadvantage if you have a nuanced view of the world and that is the problem of Democrats. They sat there trying to figure out do we actually go after him for all the things he's done, which are countless crimes, or do we limit it? And then as soon as they make a choice, then he goes for the weak part of that with the simple message and drives it more and more home.
And I have to tell that I was born in this country. I think of myself as a -- as a -- as an American -- a proud American, but I'm not home. I don't feel at home here anymore.
CAMEROTA: Why is that?
SCHWARTZ: Because I feel that we're living in a world that does not -- that does not take -- or at least 40 to 45 percent of Americans really don't live by the values that I think made America what it was, including freedom, including empathy, including decency. That they are so frightened -- they are so frightened that they will sacrifice --
And you know, at the end of the first time I went and talked about this for "The New Yorker" in 2016, the last line of that piece was a quote from me -- well, somebody else wrote the piece but it was a -- it was a quote from me in which I said, "Someday, these people who support Trump will discover that there is nobody about whom he cares less than now."
I was wrong. They haven't discovered it, but it's still true.
CAMEROTA: One of the things that happened this week, which was unusual -- which was after the attacks on Debbie Dingell and John Dingell, some Republicans -- even some of his most ardent supporters, like Sen. Lindsey Graham, said that's out of bounds.
Let me play for you what Sen. Lindsey Graham said about that moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: Did you see the president's comments about John Dingell at that rally last night?
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): No, what did he say?
REPORTER: He jokingly implied that the congressman was in hell.
GRAHAM: If he said that, he should apologize. That would be a very -- that's -- that would be a bad thing to say. If he said that, he should apologize because --
REPORTER: Senator, do you --
GRAHAM: -- John Dingell's a fine, fine man.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: That was interesting because you just don't hear that often.
So, does Donald Trump ever apologize?
SCHWARTZ: Well, no -- we know he does not apologize. He considers that a sign of weakness and he will not do it.
But the reason he did that is not because he made a reflective decision that that was a good thing to say. It's because he is sitting there in a -- in a level of turmoil and upset and anger --
CAMEROTA: Donald Trump is?
SCHWARTZ: -- Donald Trump is -- that prompts him to reactively, you know, jump at people in a way that -- in a way that is out of control. His anger is overwhelming to him right now and we see that in the literally hundreds of tweets he is writing.
CAMEROTA: Because of impeachment.
SCHWARTZ: Yes, because it is a fundamental challenge to his value and self-worth and he has such deep insecurity about it already that it only makes him crazy to have other evidence of it.
CAMEROTA: Tony Schwartz, it's always interesting to get your unique take on what we're seeing with the president. Thank you very much for being here -- John.
BERMAN: Thank you to our international viewers for watching. For you, "CNN NEWSROOM" with Max Foster is next.
For our U.S. viewers, Congress -- they're going home for holidays and there's no agreement on how to run an impeachment trial. The president's upset about this. NEW DAY continues right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): The Speaker of the House continues to hem and haw about whether and when she intends to transmit the House's accusations to the Senate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Speaker Pelosi is doing it for a very good reason.
GRAHAM: This is a political stunt that's not funny.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Frankly, I don't care what the Republicans say.
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If anyone has reason to be angry with the Republicans, it's me.
DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR, "EARLY START": Candidates squaring off in the final Democratic debate of the year.
MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), SOUTH BEND, INDIANA, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you want to talk about the capacity to win, try putting together a coalition to bring you back to office as a gay dude in Mike Pence's Indiana.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you had won in Indiana that would be one thing. You tried and you lost.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.
BERMAN: Good morning and welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Friday, December 20th. It is 8:00 in the east.
Congress is done for the year. The impeached president is heading to Mar-a-Lago and no one knows what happens when they all return.
The Senate trial to determine whether to remove the president from office is in limbo. The Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer have failed to agree to rules for that trial.
Yet, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is refusing to even transmit the approved articles of impeachment to the Senate unless the Senate agrees to hear witnesses at a trial. Mitch McConnell says fine, don't send them.