Rep. Jeff Van Drew (D-N.J.) again broke from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other top House Democrats in a new interview, saying he still doesn’t support his party’s move to impeach President Donald Trump.
Speaking to USA Today in an interview published over the weekend, Van Drew explained that “[his] job isn’t really to like or dislike him.”
“My job is to exact as much goodwill and help for my district and for this nation and for this world that I possibly can while he’s president,” he added.
Van Drew suggested he wasn’t exactly pleased with Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, which are the subject of the impeachment inquiry, but he said he’s seen no impeachable offenses after several months of closed-door and public hearings.
The 66-year-old pointed out that no president in history has been successfully removed by the Senate. To have a “small, elite group” of lawmakers try and remove a president just months before an election is indefensible and un-American, he told the paper.
“To some folks, that’s reminiscent of what was done to kings and queens many years ago,” Van Drew said. “Everything our country doesn’t stand for.”
Van Drew and longtime Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), who chairs the House Committee on Agriculture, were the only two Democrats to oppose a procedural House vote—the only one that has been held so far—on moving the impeachment inquiry into the public sphere. No Republicans have supported it, and USA Today noted that on-the-fence members of the GOP like Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas) have not backed impeaching Trump.
Meanwhile, a number of Republican senators, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), have said it’s highly unlikely Trump gets removed during the Senate trial as the GOP controls the upper Congressional body. Even some Democratic senators like Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) have expressed doubt about whether there will be 67 votes—the required number to impeach a president.
“From what I’ve heard publicly and privately, I don’t think there will be the votes to remove him if this does come to an impeachment trial in the Senate,” Coons told CNN in late November. “As a senator, the pledge I’m going to take is to weigh all the evidence in front of me,” Coons added.
Van Drew represents New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District, which voted in favor of Trump over Hillary Clinton in 2016.
“I am a moderate. I am a capitalist,” Van Drew said, adding that he is closer to Pelosi “and Trump than AOC or those folks,” referring to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), a freshman lawmaker who has publicly supported socialist policies.
He added that his constituents have supported a number of the president’s policies so far.
Later in the interview, Van Drew suggested that if Trump is acquitted in the Senate, it would raise his chances of reelection in 2020. He said Trump would be able to claim “exoneration” and use it to gain political points.
“I say to folks sometimes: Watch what you wish for,” the congressman said.