Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-NJ), has released audio of a threatening phone message left by Ocean City columnist John McCall, who has also written about the congressman’s death in his columns.
In a press release, Van Drew included transcripts of the phone call as well as what McCall has written in his columns this year targeting the congressman, who switched his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican in 2020. McCall insisted in two columns that Van Drew should be killed for alleged treason and that his wife should be sexually assaulted.
On January 13, McCall wrote a column in the Ocean City Sentinel titled “Hold Trump Loyalist Officials Accountable.” In the column, McCall accused Van Drew of treason and being a “Trump loyalist,” suggesting he be executed for the alleged crime.
“Accountability is all-important in politics. Like all Trump loyalists, Van Drew and DeVlieger are guilty of subverting the peaceful and equitable functioning of our government. This is not just a moral failing. This is treason. And the penalty for treason is execution. That applies to the great and the small, to presidents, congressmen and smalltown councilmen. It’s the trickle down theory of responsibility,” McCall wrote.
McCall then questioned whether “conscientious critics take a cue from the armed Republican rioters, storm his house, smash everything, violate his family, and walk away laughing?” McCall wrote this in response to Van Drew saying it was “silly” to call on him to resign.
Further, McCall used former President Thomas Jefferson’s statement about the tree of liberty to again suggest Van Drew be killed.
“As democratic defenders of the Republic, facing enemies with no respect for our electoral process or the truth, we are forced to ponder Thomas Jefferson’s grim directive that, for the good of our nation, the tree of liberty must be refreshed with the blood of tyrants and traitors,” McCall wrote.
The column no longer appears on the Sentinel’s website.
On the night of February 28, McCall left a voicemail on Van Drew’s phone, identifying himself as a Member of the New Jersey Press Association and calling the congressman a traitor who deserves “the fate of all traitors.”
“I would swear to your demise as a politician and I believe that you personally are a degenerate. As a member of the New Jersey Press Association, I will do everything in my power to ensure that you are deposed if not dead. Anything I can do to basically get you out of office, I will do. You are a traitor Jeff Van Drew and you deserve the fate of all traitors,” McCall said in the message, at times yelling.
Van Drew called the police about the message, prompting another column from McCall in which the writer suggested someone sexually assault the congressman’s wife:
Two Ocean City police officers showed up at our door last week, dispatched by Congressman Jeff Van Drew, purportedly fearing for his life. Mini-Trump’s pretense of feeling threatened so that he could further harass my family was a calculated reaction to a phone message I left on his answering machine. My act was instigated by his own countless intrusions into our home by email and phone touting the anti-American agenda of his fellow Republican extremists and the disgraced, deposed traitor Donald Trump…Now he claims to be scared s***less when the incendiary language of his mentor is turned against him…This is why police don’t like him. These we seemed to agree, are mini-Trump’s political methods, not mine, far more threatening to the welfare of American citizens then a phone call to some pissant politician…If I was a cop, I’d tell Van Drew to go hang.
Van Drew’s mentor has said it’s cool to greet women by grabbing them between the legs. Should we test the acceptability of this remark and get the direct response of a prominent GOP female by greeting Van Drew’s wife with the Republican high-five, lifting her over the hood of her car and objectively recording her physical reaction to the tickle when she lands?
Now mini-Trump whimpers when loyal Americans shoot back, disclose his lies, and hold him accountable for his hate-mongering treason. And as a traitor, he has forfeit his right to protection under the law. Know this V.D.: It doesn’t stop here… God save you.
On Monday, Van Drew held a press conference condemning McCall’s columns and demanding a retraction from the Sentinel.
“For far too long calls for violence have gone unchallenged, but today, right here in Cape May County we are drawing a line in the sand. You can come after me with loud words and threats, but if anyone, let alone a member of the Press, thinks they can threaten my wife and my family they’ve got another thing coming,” Van Drew said. “When I was asked to run for office a long time ago, I did it to make sure my neighbors always had someone looking out for them, whether I was representing them at town hall, in Trenton or now Washington. I am calling on the New Jersey Press Association and the Ocean City Sentinel to forcefully denounce and condemn the threats McCall made against me and my family, to immediately retract his hate-filled editorials, and issue a public apology to my family – until then any and all legal options remain on the table.”
Cape May County Sheriff Bob Nolan also spoke at the press conference, denouncing what he called “threats of violence.”
“As Sheriff it is my sworn duty to ensure the safety of everyone who lives in, works in, or visits Cape May County,” Nolan said. “Congressman Van Drew didn’t offer himself or his family up for public service to be a target of threats or violence by anyone, let alone a newspaper columnist. The Cape May County Sheriff’s Office takes all threats seriously and political violence of any kind will not be tolerated.”
In response to Van Drew’s statements, Ocean City Sentinel Editor and Publisher David Nahan issued an apology, saying he didn’t think McCall’s second column included any threats but acknowledged that Van Drew felt threatened.
“Because you felt threatened and felt your wife was threatened, I am sorry. There are no two ways about that. I blame that on my judgment. I knew in advance that the guest column was vitriolic and highly critical of you and your support for the former president. The way it was written, I do not believe it contains any threats of harm because if I did, I would not have allowed it to appear in my newspaper,” Nahan wrote. “However, you disagree to the point that rather than call me up directly to ask for an apology, you held a public press conference to blast this newspaper and the man who wrote it. But that is fair. You have every right to respond.”
Nahan later said he had “let the readers down” by publishing McCall’s column.
“The partisan vitriol has become so extreme, it is easy to get desensitized to what is being said. I am fully aware of that. I have written in this space in both editorials and columns that we all need to tone down the political anger that is dividing our country. By not editing this column – or asking the guest writer to edit it – in a way that would ensure the congressman and his wife did not feel threatened, the net result is adding to the anger, not diminishing it,” Nahan wrote. “That does not contribute to a dialogue, serve our readers or our Democracy.”
McCall has not apologized for his remarks, taking an opportunity to again attack Van Drew in comments to The Press of Atlantic City.
“[Van Drew is] a grandstanding jack*** who, like his mentor Donald Trump, is attempting to censor the free press for criticizing his radical, disingenuous behavior in strong language,” McCall said.
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