- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 19, 2019

President Trump welcomed party-switching Rep. Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey to the GOP on Thursday, a day after the lawmaker was one of only three House Democrats to vote against Mr. Trump’s impeachment.

At the White House, the president said Mr. Van Drew knew firsthand of the pressure that House Democratic leaders exerted on lawmakers to vote for impeachment.

“They happen to have a small majority, and they took that small majority and they forced people,” Mr. Trump said. “They put the arm on everybody. They tried to get them to do what they had to do. Many of those people were like Jeff, where they didn’t want to vote that way.”

The president hosted Mr. Van Drew in the Oval Office in mid-afternoon with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, Vice President Mike Pence and others.

Mr. Trump said he had a “very big announcement… Jeff will be joining the Republican Party.”

Mr. Van Drew said of his party switch, “I believe that this is just a better fit for me. This is who I am.”

He said Mr. Trump has his “undying support.” In response, the president said he is endorsing Mr. Van Drew for reelection in 2020. Mr. McCarthy and Mr. Pence also pledged their support.

Less than 24 hours after the House approved two articles of impeachment on party-line votes, Mr. Trump said Democrats are “playing games” by not immediately sending the articles to the Republican-led Senate for a trial.

“They don’t want to put them in [the Senate] because they’re ashamed of them,” Mr. Trump said. “They’re playing games. … They’re not allowed to do that.”

The president said he’s heard that the delay could be unconstitutional.

Asked how it feels to be impeached, Mr. Trump said, “I don’t feel like I’m being impeached because it’s a hoax, it’s a setup, it’s a horrible thing they did.”

Referring to his boisterous campaign rally Wednesday night in Michigan, he said, “We had a great time last night, the room was packed.”

Asked about his strategy for a Senate trial, Mr. Trump said, “The Senate is very, very capable. We have great senators, Republican senators. I’m going to let them decide what to do.”

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