Rep. Jeff Van Drew, one of the two Democrats who voted against formalizing the impeachment inquiry against Trump back in October, is leaving the Democratic Party to join the Republican Party, according to reports.
Van Drew has told top House Republicans about his decision, according to a GOP official familiar with the conversations. The lawmaker also discussed switching parties in a meeting with Trump at the White House on Friday, an administration official said Saturday.
As the articles of impeachment approved by the House Judiciary Committee await a House floor vote, moderate Democrats from Trump-leaning districts have been faced with mounting pressure.
Van Drew won his southern New Jersey district by 8 percentage points last year, but Trump carried it by 5 points in 2016, leaving Van Drew vulnerable going into next November’s congressional elections.
There are 31 House Democrats who represent the districts that Trump carried in the 2016 election, and many of them have been nervous about the political repercussions they would face if they vote to impeach Trump.
“There are 31 House Democrats in Trump won Congressional Districts. Those Dems will have to answer to their constituents come 2020. If you look at the facts, there’s no crime, there’s no witness, there’s no evidence, there’s no victim, President Zelensky said there was….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 14, 2019
Trump sent out a warning on Twitter to the 31 House Democrats on Saturday morning.
“There are 31 House Democrats in Trump won Congressional Districts. Those Dems will have to answer to their constituents come 2020,” he tweeted while vehemently denying any wrongdoing.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, shared the Twitter accounts and contact information of the 31 Democrats.
“Here’s a complete thread of their handles & phone #s. Call non-stop, tweet at them, tell them this will NOT STAND & you’ll remember in Nov!” Trump Jr. said.
Enough! These Democrats in Trump districts said they were with @realDonaldTrump. They lied! – Now now its time to hear from OUR MOVEMENT. Here’s a complete thread of their handles & phone #s. Call non-stop, tweet at them, tell them this will NOT STAND & you’ll remember in Nov! RT
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) December 14, 2019
Though he won his seat as a Democrat, Van Drew is known for dissenting from the Democratic Party line in his votes as a state lawmaker, the Wall Street Journal reported.
He voted against a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in 2012 and opposed measures intended to restrict gun ownership after the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in Connecticut.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.