Members of Rep. Jeff Van Drew’s (D-NJ) staff have quit amid reports that he is considering a switch to the Republican Party after publicly opposing Democrat leaders’ impeachment inquiry, according to a report.
In a letter to Van Drew, five senior aides wrote that they are “deeply saddened and disappointed by his decision” to join the Republican Party.
“Sadly, Congressman Van Drew’s decision to join the ranks of the Republican party led by Donald Trump does not align with the values we brought to this job when we joined his office,” the letter reads, reports Politico. “It also states that “Trump Republicans” have worked to “aid and abet Trump as he shreds the Constitution and tear the country apart.”
The following staff members resigned: Deputy chiefs Edward Kaczmarski and Justin O’Leary, communications director Mackenzie Lucas, legislative director Javier Gamboa, and legislative aide Caroline Wood.
Allison Murphy, Van Drew’s chief of staff, is expected to remain in her post, though more staffers could opt to leave in the coming days, Politico noted.
The lawmaker, who has not yet publicly said he is switching parties, is one of two Democrats to vote against a resolution to formally authorize the impeachment investigation of Trump in October. He said he opposes the inquiry into whether Trump withheld promised aid to Ukraine in exchange for it to investigate his political rival former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden because he fears that without bipartisan support it will further divide the country and fail in the senate.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy accused Van Drew of switching parties in an effort to save his job amid falling support among Democratic voters due to his stance on impeachment.
“Betraying our values by siding with Donald Trump is the final straw and made it impossible for him to continue being supported by our party, as grassroots activists, local party leaders in his district and I have made it clear in recent weeks,” Murphy said in a statement to CNN. “This party switch is cynical and desperate and I am confident that a Democrat who shares the values and priorities of our Democratic Party will hold this seat.”
On Sunday, President Donald Trump welcomed reports that Van Drew could switch parties, tweeting: “Wow, that would be big. Always heard Jeff is very smart!”
“All of the Democrats know you are right, but unlike you, they don’t have the ‘guts’ to say so!” he wrote in a subsequent tweet.
The UPI contributed to this report.