U.S. Jeff Van Drew, D-2nd, shown in a Press file photo from April, is not ready to call for President Donald Trump's impeachment, he said Tuesday. But he said if verifiable information comes out that Trump tried to pressure the Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden's son, and linked defense aid to it, he may change his mind.
While support to impeach President Donald Trump increased Tuesday in Congress, U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew, D-2nd, remains opposed, citing a lack of clear evidence that Trump tried to pressure the Ukrainian president to investigate Joe Biden’s son, he said Tuesday.
But he may change his mind if new information that is verifiable comes to light, Van Drew said
“There is definitely a bigger push for it, and there are definitely some congresspeople who before felt they were unsure and didn't want to do anything … now calling for an impeachment inquiry,” he said.
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“As we move forward, if we have clear evidence of impeachable offenses, if the president said, ‘You must investigate Biden’s son and if you don't I will not help you with your defense,’ then it’s an issue we have got to look at,” Van Drew said. “If something else comes up that is really clear high crimes and misdemeanors it will be so bad the majority of times you are going to have bipartisan support (for impeachment).”
But Van Drew said no one can be sure what actually happened, since the whistleblower was not in the room when the call happened but is making allegations secondhand.
“He was in the room with other people who didn't relate anything,” Van Drew said. “He didn’t go in a dark room alone.”
Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Andy Kim, D-3rd, whose district includes part of southern Ocean County, said Tuesday he favored impeachment.
"When I worked in the White House, I couldn't have imagined the Commander in Chief putting personal and political gain above our national security," Kim tweeted. "If corroborated, I believe the President committed an impeachable offense by urging a foreign power to influence our Democracy.'
With just a year to go before a presidential election, Van Drew said it’s best to focus on issues like prescription drug costs and election security, and let voters decide whether Trump should remain in office.
“If we are going to have an impeachment inquiry and procedure (leading up to the) 2020 elections, it will be very counterproductive,” Van Drew said. Instead of focusing on issues and who should be the next president and getting work done, everyone will focus on impeachment, he said.
An impeachment effort also could backfire and benefit the president in next year’s vote, he said, citing the backlash against Republicans when they impeached President Bill Clinton in 1998.
There are already investigations and hearings about the Trump allegations in the Judiciary Committee and elsewhere, he said, and they will continue.
“In some way it could create a lack of stability internationally,” Van Drew said of moving forward with impeachment. “We have important and tremendous issues going on right now involving North Korea, China, and Syria and Yemen, as well as domestic issues we’d like to address. Almost all will go unaddressed because of the fact we are so twisted up into this.”
“I don't think the juice is worth the squeeze here — lastly because even if it goes through the House of Representatives it’s going to fail thereafter,” Van Drew said of the Republican-controlled Senate. “We will spend all that money, all that time, all the work that doesn't get done, all that energy to embarrass someone who is going to be running in an election in a short period of time. The people can decide if they want to impeach him.”
On Tuesday, Van Drew and U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn, R-Minn., Ron Estes, R-Kan., and Paul Mitchell, R-Mich., introduced a bill to address the growing shortage of skilled workers in the technical and skilled trades.
The American Workforce Empowerment Act would expand Section 529 savings plan eligibility to include educational and training expenses spent on certain post-secondary vocational training, including tools and equipment; and on registered apprenticeship programs, which trade unions and manufacturers describe as vital to training America’s workforce of tomorrow.
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In my first job after college got paid to read the New York Times and summarize articles for an early online data base. First reporting job was with The Daily Record in Parsippany. I have also worked in nonprofits, and have been with The Press since 1990.