Trump announces Van Drew will become a Republican in Oval Office meeting

President TrumpDonald John TrumpOklahoma City Thunder players kneel during anthem despite threat from GOP state lawmaker Microsoft moving forward with talks to buy TikTok after conversation with Trump Controversial Trump nominee placed in senior role after nomination hearing canceled MORE met with Rep. Jefferson Van Drew (N.J.) at the White House on Thursday and announced that the Democrat would switch parties and become a Republican.

“Jeff will be joining the Republican Party,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office on Thursday afternoon, after teasing a “very big announcement.”

Van Drew told Trump he has his “undying support.”

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“I believe that this is just a better fit for me. This is who I am. It’s who I always was but there was more tolerance of moderate Democrats, Blue Dog Democrats or conservative Democrats. And I think that’s gone away,” Van Drew said.  

“You have my undying support. Always,” Van Drew told Trump.

The president then endorsed Van Drew, shaking his hand. 

“I’m endorsing him, OK? We’re endorsing him. I can’t speak for these two gentlemen, but I can say I’m endorsing him,” Trump said, gesturing to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyDon't let Trump distract us from the real threat of his presidency Overnight Health Care: Five takeaways from Fauci's testimony | CDC: Children might play 'important role' in spreading COVID-19 | GOP leader wants rapid testing at Capitol GOP leader wants to make rapid testing available at Capitol MORE (R-Calif.) and Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceNASA astronauts in SpaceX capsule splash down to earth The 'pitcher of warm spit' — Veepstakes and the fate of Mike Pence Stimulus impasse threatens both economy and Trump MORE, who joined him in the room.

McCarthy and Pence also pledged their support for the new Republican.

Trump and Van Drew also were joined in the meeting by White House counselor Kellyanne ConwayKellyanne Elizabeth ConwayWatchdog group accuses Stephen Miller of violating Hatch Act with Biden comments Hillicon Valley: Trump raises idea of delaying election, faces swift bipartisan pushback | Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google release earnings reports | Senators ask Justice Department to investigate TikTok, Zoom Meme group joins with Lincoln Project in new campaign against Trump MORE, acting chief of staff Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyFauci says positive White House task force reports don't always match what he hears on the ground Bottom line White House, Senate GOP clash over testing funds MORE and Ivanka TrumpIvana (Ivanka) Marie TrumpDeutsche Bank launches investigation into longtime banker of Trump, Kushner Watchdog group accuses Stephen Miller of violating Hatch Act with Biden comments Ivanka and Kushner earned at least M in outside income last year: financial disclosures MORE

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The meeting in the Oval Office came one day after the House voted nearly strictly around party lines to approve two articles of impeachment against Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Van Drew, who voted as a Democrat on Wednesday evening, was one of three Democrats who defected and voted against one or both of the articles. Republicans were unanimous in opposition to impeachment, something Trump has cheered in the wake of the historic vote.

“We were very fortunate he voted our way yesterday,” Trump said in the Oval Office on Thursday. “We have a very unified party.” 

The Hill and other news outlets reported over the weekend that Van Drew was expected to switch parties and become a Republican. The former dentist and state lawmaker representing South Jersey won his election last year in New Jersey's 2nd Congressional District by defeating former Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.).

Trump won the district by 4.6 percentage points in 2016, though it was one the previous two presidential cycles by President Obama.

Asked Wednesday why he was remaining a Democrat for the votes when impeachment was the reason he was switching parties, Van Drew told The Hill he felt it was “appropriate” that he voted as a Democrat.

"This is a big vote. I started discussing this issue and my concerns with it as a Democrat. I think it's appropriate," Van Drew said Wednesday afternoon, just hours before the impeachment votes.

Van Drew repeatedly sidestepped questions from reporters about the timing of his party switch before his meeting with Trump on Thursday.

Trump on Thursday called his impeachment a “hoax” and claimed Democrats pressured others in their party to vote in favor of impeachment, pointing to Van Drew as an example.

“It’s a hoax. It’s a set up. It’s a horrible thing they did,” Trump said.

House Democrats will not need a formal vote to boot Van Drew out of their caucus.

Under Democratic rules, Van Drew will automatically lose his membership in the Democratic Caucus upon his resignation from the party, Democratic aides said.

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The broad majority of vulnerable Democrats representing districts Trump won in 2016 voted in favor of the two articles of impeachment on Wednesday.

The House accused Trump of abusing his office by pressuring Ukraine to pursue investigations that could benefit his 2020 reelection campaign, and obstructing the congressional inquiry into his dealings with Kyiv. Trump has denied any wrongdoing and accused Democrats of a partisan effort to damage him politically.

Mike Lillis, Scott Wong, and Brett Samuels contributed.

Updated at 4:11 p.m.