Van Drew defends switch to GOP, calls impeachment of Trump ‘weak, thin’

closeRep. Jeff Van Drew speaks out for first time since switching partiesVideo

Rep. Jeff Van Drew speaks out for first time since switching parties

Republican Rep. Jeff Van Drew speaks exclusively to 'Sunday Morning Futures' after leaving the Democrat Party.

Rep. Jeff Van Drew, R-N.J., defended on Sunday his exit from the Democratic Party after he voted against both articles of impeachment – calling the Democrats' arguments for impeaching President Trump “weak” and "thin.”

Van Drew, who last week met with Trump following the congressman's announcement that he was joining the Republican Party, said during an interview on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures” that he has been mulling over a switch to the GOP for a while, but impeachment was the tipping point for the former Democrat.

"There has always been something in my career that let me know it’s time for a change,” Van Drew said. “I feel good…I feel I did the honorable thing.”

REP. VAN DREW, AHEAD OF EXPECTED PARTY SWITCH, COMPARES IMPEACHMENT TO HOW 'THIRD-WORLD COUNTRIES OPERATE

Rumblings of a possible party switch in the midst of Democrat-led impeachment proceedings against Trump caused members of Van Drew's caucus to accuse him of clamoring to cross the aisle in an attempt to save his bid for reelection and led to the resignations of five aides from his office.

A recent internal poll conducted for the Democrats found that 58 percent of primary voters in Van Drew's 2nd Congressional District wanted to nominate another candidate, while only 28 percent said he should be renominated.

Rep. Jeff Van Drew announces he's switched from Democrat to Republican during Oval Office meeting with TrumpVideo

"The final sign for me was, oddly enough, when one of the county chairmen said ‘you have to vote for impeachment,’” Van Drew said. “And that ‘If you don’t, you won’t be able to run in my county.’ It’s not his county, it’s everybody’s county.”

Van Drew went on to call charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress that were leveled against Trump “weak” and “thin” and lambasted his former fellow Democrats for bringing them against the president.

“This impeachment is a weak, thin impeachment,” he said. “It’s been a long, dark shadow on our country.”

“We are supposed to be there for the American people and not for political bickering,” Van Drew said. “It harms our country and it fractures us more.”

RNC to Rep. Jeff Van Drew: Welcome to the party that's getting results for the American peopleVideo

It remains to be seen how Van Drew will vote on legislation now that he is officially a Republican. Out of 659 votes in the 116th Congress, Van Drew and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., have agreed only 300 times.

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As a Democrat, Van Drew voted to override Trump's veto of a bill that overturned his emergency declaration for border wall funding and voted to block Trump from withdrawing from the Paris Climate Change Accord.

He has also voted to block the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia and disapproved of the Trump administration's plan to lift sanctions on three Russian companies.

In addition, Van Drew has condemned comments Trump made about four congresswomen that the president dubbed "The Squad," calling the remarks racist and has pushed back on Trump's attempts to direct courts to invalidate the Affordable Care Act.

“I want to bring people together,” Van Drew said. “I always push for what I believe is right and what is best.”

Fox News Vandana Rambaran contributed to this report.

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Rep. Van Drew, ahead of expected party switch, compares impeachment to how ‘third-world countries operate’

closeTempers flare on House floor as Rep. Louie Gohmert shouts at Rep. Jerry NadlerVideo

Tempers flare on House floor as Rep. Louie Gohmert shouts at Rep. Jerry Nadler

Texas Republican Louie Gohmert returns to the podium to address House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler's 'Russian propaganda' claim.

Democratic Rep. Jeff Van Drew hasn’t officially switched parties yet, but the New Jersey congressman said he moved over to stand on the GOP side of the aisle Wednesday for the historic impeachment votes because it was “appropriate.”

The freshman Democrat opposes impeachment and is expected to jump to the Republican Party for political survival in a district President Trump carried in 2016.

“As I’ve said all along, I’m going to vote ‘no,’” Van Drew told reporters at the Capitol. “So I think they [Republicans] are all going to vote ‘no’ so it’s certainly appropriate in this case regardless of any other discussions we might be having.”

HOUSE TO VOTE ON ARTICLES OF IMPEACHMENT AGAINST PRESIDENT TRUMP: LIVE UPDATES

Van Drew, still officially a Democrat, sat with Republicans when impeachment debate kicked off and said he was welcomed warmly. He even got a pep talk from Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, who was condemned on the House floor in January for white supremacist comments.

“Jeff right now today is the loneliest man in Congress,” King told Fox News. “I’ve got sympathy and empathy for that circumstance. And I just expressed that to him. Let him know [to] follow your conscience and follow your heart in what you do today. Let it be something that fits within who you are and it’ll be OK.”

Van Drew confirmed that King had kind words for him and all the Republicans were “very, very nice.” But he denied feeling lonely: “I have a lot friends,” he told Fox News.

WITH TRUMP IMPEACHMENT VOTE IMMINENT, PRESIDENT TRAVELING TO BATTLE CREEK, MICH., TO RALLY THE FAITHFUL

News of Van Drew’s planned party switch broke over the weekend, followed by an exodus of his Democratic staff, who resigned in protest.

Van Drew and Rep. Colin Peterson, D-Minn, were the only Democrats to vote "no" against the launch of the impeachment inquiry on Halloween. And the pair again were the lone dissenters on an earlier vote Wednesday on the rule to kick off the impeachment debate.

“I’ve always felt this impeachment is going to do a tremendous amount of harm to the country,” Van Drew said. “It’s really going to create more division, more hardship, more hate, more civil unrest. It’s going to disfranchise thousands and thousands of people who voted.”

Van Drew doesn’t believe Trump’s conduct amounts to removal from office and compared impeachment to erasing the 2016 election vote result.

“I sometimes believe that not everyone understands the severe seriousness of impeachment. It is how an oligarchy operates. It is how third-world countries operate…the vote is what counts,” he said.

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Van Drew is among the 31 Democrats who won in districts Trump won in 2016. These swing-district Democrats are feeling the heat from an onslaught of attack ads from GOP-aligned groups, and some have acknowledged their vote for impeachment could cost them their seat.

Van Drew was coy when asked if he’d making is party switch official at the White House ceremony, saying “we’ll see.” He said an announcement will come “very shortly” but not on Wednesday.

“Today is all about impeachment,” he said.

Original Article

Anti-impeachment Democrat Jeff Van Drew meets with Trump to discuss party switch

closeDemocratic lawmaker explains his opposition to impeachmentVideo

Democratic lawmaker explains his opposition to impeachment

Rep. Jeff Van Drew weighs in on 'Fox & Friends.'

Rep. Jeff Van Drew, D-N.J., met with President Trump on Friday to discuss going across party lines and joining the Republican Party — this after he has spent months criticizing fellow Democrats for their push to impeach Trump.

A source confirmed to Fox News on Saturday that Van Drew met with Trump to discuss switching parties.

Another source told Fox News that Van Drew may be seeking a Rose Garden ceremony if he were to switch. Van Drew is one of two Democrats who opposed the resolution codifying the impeachment probe. In addition, Van Drew indicated last week he would not support impeachment and thought impeachment would backfire on Democrats.

HOUSE DEM RAILS AGAINST IMPEACHMENT PUSH: 'EVERYTHING OUR COUNTRY DOESN'T STAND FOR'

The Washington Post first reported that Trump had personally urged Van Drew to jump ship and that the lawmaker strongly considering it. The New York Times reported that he could make an announcement as soon as next week, just as the House gears up to vote on impeachment.

A spokesperson for Van Drew did not immediately return a request for comment. Two Democratic aides told Fox News that they expected Van Drew to switch parties.

While Van Drew has called President Trump’s conduct in relation to his July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky “unsavory,” he has repeatedly said he did not see evidence that would justify his removal from office. He was one of just two House Democrats to oppose the House’s November vote to set impeachment rules.

In an interview with Fox Business last month, he said he would vote against articles of impeachment unless he hears evidence against President Trump that "rises to the level of treason or a high crime."

He said the "Founding Fathers had vigorous debates of whether they would even allow impeachment in the Constitution," and that he favors allowing voters to decide the matter in next year's election.

"You don't disenfranchise voters, millions upon millions of voters. Voters choose their leaders in America," Van Drew had said.

Rep. Jeff Van Drew on whether drawn-out Democratic presidential primary is helping President TrumpVideo

The Times reported that during conversations between Van Drew and Trump advisers, where the freshman congressman said he was nervous about losing his seat either in a Democratic primary — due to his opposition to impeachment in a liberal state — or in a general election. A Democratic aide told Fox News that a recent poll his campaign took showed another Democrat would beat him in a primary race.

The Times reported that while Van Drew has not yet made a final decision, he was serious enough that he discussed what day to make an announcement and whether to do it before the upcoming vote on articles of impeachment.

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The meeting came the same day that the House Judiciary Committee voted to adopt two articles of impeachment in a party-line vote. The article allege abuse of power and obstruction by Trump. Should the House adopt the articles next week, it could trigger a Senate trial in the new year just as 2020 presidential primaries are about to get underway.

"Today is a solemn and sad day," Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., told reporters after the vote. "For the third time in a little over a century and a half, the House Judiciary Committee has voted articles of impeachment against the president — for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The House will act expeditiously."

Fox News' Marisa Schultz, Sam Dorman and Chad Pergram contributed to this report.

Original Article