Rep. Jeff Van Drew (D-N.J.) who has opposed House Democrats’ impeachment effort, discussed switching parties in a meeting with President Donald Trump, according to multiple sources familiar with the situation.
An administration official on Saturday, Dec. 14, confirmed with the Associated Press that Van Drew met with the president in the White House on Friday.
Earlier, Van Drew had conversations with senior White House advisers about getting the president’s support for his switch and could announce his plans next week, according to media reports.
Van Drew, a moderate Democrat, has been openly critical of impeachment, arguing that it’s polarizing and comes too close to the 2020 election.
“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.”
Van Drew had previously said that he doesn’t “see anything there worthy of actually taking a president out of office” and that he wouldn’t support impeachment, leading to the suggestion that a liberal Democrat might step up to challenge him in the primary.
The Van Drew also warned that, if Democrats fail to impeach the president, he could claim exoneration and beating him in the upcoming election would prove even more difficult.
“I say to folks sometimes, ‘Watch what you wish for,’” Van Drew said, and most his supporters agree.
Van Drew, gaining popularity for his stance on impeachment, was backed by his voters as well as select Democrats.
Vineland longtime Democratic operative Lou Magazzu, who has known Van Drew for 25 years, commended the New Jersey congressman as “an extraordinarily effective representative” who knows his district.
“My party, Democrats, have to decide: Would they rather have a more perfect progressive be the nominee and lose the seat, or would they be prepared to have a conservative Democrat who they may not agree with at all times hold the seat?” Magazzu said. “He’s not going to get pushed out. Not without a lot of people having his back.”
Also keeping his distance from the impeachment was Rep. Max Rose (D-N.Y.,) a freshman lawmaker.
“I’m uncomfortable until I see the articles” of impeachment, said Rose on Dec. 6, referring to the formal charges that House Democrats are making. “That’s the most important thing. When you can see the articles, that’s when one can entertain whether one’s comfortable or not.”
At least six defections from moderate Democrats are expected in the impeachment vote planned for next week. They reportedly represent the districts that backed President Trump in the 2016 elections.
Van Drew’s party switch could impact the Democrats’ expected vote on two articles of impeachment against Trump next week.