Van Drew pledges ‘undying support’ for Trump as he switches parties

Rep. Jeff Van Drew on Thursday formally became a Republican, pledging his “undying support“ for Donald Trump as the ex-Democrat sat next to the president in the White House.

“I believe that this is just a better fit for me,” the New Jersey lawmaker said, following a meeting with Trump on Thursday afternoon. “This is who I am.”

Van Drew made the move after breaking with the Democrats on impeachment, voting against both articles on Wednesday night.

Trump quickly embraced Van Drew on Thursday, endorsing him and calling him “highly respected.“ Van Drew was first elected to the House in 2018 in a Southern New Jersey district that voted for Trump in 2016.

“I don’t know how, as a Democrat, you could have won in that district very well. That’s a great tribute to you,” Trump said. “We were very fortunate he voted our way yesterday.“

Vice President Mike Pence and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy also threw their support behind Van Drew.

Also joining the Trump-Van Drew meeting were acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and Trump‘s daughter and senior adviser, Ivanka Trump.

McCarthy said the switch was significant because Van Drew was going from the majority to minority party in the House.

“Normally it doesn’t go that way,” he said.

Van Drew was automatically kicked out of the Democratic Caucus after he made his announcement. The caucus chairman, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York, sent a two-sentence letter to Van Drew on Thursday afternoon notifying him of the move.

“Pursuant to Rule 1 of the House Democratic Caucus, membership is automatically relinquished upon resignation from the Democratic Party,” the letter read. “In accordance with that Rule, you are no longer a Member of the House Democratic Caucus effective immediately.”

House Majority PAC, a super PAC dedicated to electing Democrats, issued a terse request for the newly minted Republican to return the organization’s $2,500 donation, calling Van Drew‘s decision “shameful.“

The president has been praising Van Drew as his party-switching plans started leaking out.

“Congressman Jeff Van Drew is very popular in our great and very united Republican Party,” Trump tweeted earlier this week. “It was a tribute to him that he was able to win his heavily Republican district as a Democrat. People like that are not easily replaceable!“

Trump first approached Van Drew about becoming a Republican after the New Jersey Democrat voted against a resolution that endorsed the House’s impeachment inquiry and set out rules for the proceedings.