Five aides to Van Drew resign ahead of his formal switch to GOP

Five top staffers to freshman Rep. Jefferson Van Drew (D-N.J.) resigned Sunday, citing the lawmaker’s decision to join the Republican Party after a meeting with President TrumpDonald John TrumpCNN's Don Lemon explains handling of segment after Trump criticism NPR reporter after Pompeo clash: Journalists don't interview government officials to score 'political points' Lawyer says Parnas can't attend Senate trial due to ankle bracelet MORE.

In a letter to Allison Murphy, Van Drew’s chief of staff, the senior aides wrote that Van Drew’s pending jump to the GOP “does not align with the values we brought to this job when we joined his office,” adding that they were “deeply saddened and disappointed by his decision.”

The resigning staffers included deputy chiefs of staff Justin O’Leary and Edward Kaczmarski, legislative director Javier Gamboa, communications director Mackenzie Lucas and legislative staff assistant Caroline Wood.

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Politico first reported the resignation of the five senior Van Drew staffers.

The mass departure of Van Drew’s top aides comes one day after the congressman informed his staff that he will leave the Democratic Party. Drew, one of two Democrats to vote against the opening of an impeachment probe into Trump, had met with the president at the White House on Friday.

The former Van Drew aides wrote that they could "no longer in good conscience continue our service in in the Congressman's employ" after his decision to join the Republican Party.

"Trump Republicans have sided with special interest over the needs of working people. Worse, they continue to aid and abet Trump as he shreds the Constitution and tears the country apart," the resigning staffers wrote.

"They have refused to grapple with how the President of the United States has jeopardized our national security for his own political advantage," they added. 

Van Drew was elected in 2018 to a southern New Jersey district held by Republicans for more than two decades. Democrats attributed Van Drew’s decision to an alarming internal poll showing that primary voters in his district had turned against him over his impeachment decision.

Fifty-eight percent of Democrats said they wanted to a new choice for the party in 2020, while only 28 percent said Van Drew should be renominated, according to a copy of the poll shown to The Hill. 

His office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.

Updated at 8:24 p.m.