Cracks are appearing in the Democrats’ resolve to impeach President Donald Trump, with dissident Congress members expressing reservations about proceeding to a Senate trial.
The latest fissure in the formerly united front to oust the President from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue came on Friday (US time) when first-term Democrat Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey discussed switching parties in a meeting with President Donald Trump, an administration official says.
Earlier in the week, a group of some 10 Democrats urged party leaders to scrap the impeachment effort and pass a milder censure motion instead.
The group has briefed reporters about what they say is a growing fear the impeachment will become an own goal once the Republican-controlled Senate gets to quiz witnesses in open hearings.
The White House official, who was not authorised to discuss Mr Van Drew’s private conversation with Mr Trump and spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed that the New Jersey representative met with Trump in the White House on Friday.
Drew, serving his first term in Congress, is one of his party’s more endangered lawmakers in next November’s elections. His southern New Jersey district narrowly favoured Trump in 2016.
The House is set to approve two articles of impeachment against Trump this coming week. Democrats, who hold the majority, expect support from all but a few of their members. No Republicans are expected to join them.
The Republican-controlled Senate is then all but certain to acquit Trump after a trial in January.
Van Drew has argued that the process is likely to further divide the country and it would be better to let voters decide Trump’s fate in next year’s election.
In the first article of impeachment, Trump is accused of abusing his presidential power by asking Ukraine to investigate his 2020 rival Joe Biden while holding military aid as leverage.
In the second article, he’s accused of obstructing Congress by blocking the House’s efforts to investigate his actions.