According to a new report from Politico, House Democrat Jeff Van Drew plans to switch parties to become a Republican after a lengthy meeting with President Trump.
Van Drew was one of the few Democrats firmly against impeachment of the President and represents a district that voted for Trump.
After hearing about his defection, Senior Democrats scrambled to reach him all day but to no avail.
CONFIRMED: Democratic Rep. Jeff Van Drew has informed staff he is SWITCHING PARTIES and will become a Republican, following a lengthy meeting w/ Trump.
And senior Dems have been scrambling to reach him all day.
— Melanie Zanona (@MZanona) December 14, 2019
BREAKING: Democrat Congressman Jeff Van Drew is planning to switch parties from 🔵🔜🔴.
While the Republican Party is more unified than ever, democrats are defecting.
If Van Drew switches, Republicans will only need 17 seats to flip the House.
— #ThePersistence (@ScottPresler) December 14, 2019
Politico reports Rep. Jeff Van Drew, a moderate Democrat who is strongly opposed to impeaching President Donald Trump, is expected to switch parties and become a Republican, according to multiple sources familiar with the situation.
Van Drew is one of two Democrats who voted against opening the impeachment inquiry into Trump and has remained against the effort, even as the House prepares to vote to impeach the president next week. Van Drew’s decision comes after a meeting with Trump on Friday.
Van Drew’s congressional, campaign staff and other members of the New Jersey delegation were informed he was planning to switch parties on Saturday, according to Democratic sources. The question now was when, not if, Van Drew was joining the Republican Party, according to several Democrats with knowledge of the ongoing conversations.
As of Saturday afternoon, it was still unclear if Van Drew would make the announcement before the House votes on impeachment, which is expected Wednesday.
“It was supposed to be bipartisan, it was supposed to be incontrovertible. It was supposed to be something that was always on the rarest of circumstances,” Van Drew told reporters about impeachment earlier this week. “Well it’s not bipartisan.”
Republicans were excitedly touting the news on Saturday, describing it as a huge blow to Democrats’ effort to impeach the president, which Trump and other GOP leaders have repeatedly decried as a “partisan witch hunt.” The move is also certain to score major points with Trump, whose support could be crucial in a crowded GOP primary. Trump and Van Drew are expected to hold an event together next week, according to sources on Capitol Hill.
But Democrats were already brushing off the party switch, saying Van Drew was making the calculation purely based on politics and voters would see right through his self-interested motivations in November 2020.
And Democrats are quick to note that Van Drew’s departure is unlikely to impact the impeachment vote tally in any way. Democratic leadership had already been expecting a handful of their members to vote against impeachment, including Van Drew, next week.
Multiple senior Democrats tried to reach out to the New Jersey freshman on Saturday but were unsuccessful. Van Drew did not respond to calls and texts from POLITICO seeking comment.