Five staffers serving a Democratic congressman have resigned after sources reportedly said he was making plans to switch to the Republican Party.
New Jersey Representative Jeff Van Drew received a joint resignation letter on Sunday, written by legislative director Javier Gamboa, deputy chief Edward Kaczmarski, deputy chief Justin O’Leary, communications director Mackenzie Lucas, and legislative staff assistant Caroline Wood.
The aides said they could “no longer in good conscience continue our service in the congressman’s employ” because of his decision.
“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,” said the letter.
He reportedly made his decision to switch to the Republican Party following a meeting with Mr Trump on Friday.
The letter, published by CNN, also criticised hard-line Trump supporters within the Republican Party who “sided with special interests over the needs of working people”.
“Worse, they continue to aid and abet Trump as he shreds the Constitution and tears the country apart,” it added. “They have refused to grapple with how the President of the United States has jeopardised our national security for his own political advantage.”
Other members of the Democratic Party have condemned Mr Van Drew’s switch, calling it “a serious mistake” and “desperate”.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said: “Betraying our values by siding with Donald Trump is the final straw and made impossible for him to continue being supported by our party, as grassroots activists, local party leaders in his district, and I have made clear in recent weeks.
“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.”
Tennessee Representative Steven Cohen told CNN: “I’ve heard of rats jumping off a sinking ship, but very few of them jump onto a sinking ship.”
Mr Trump thanked Mr Van Drew for his “honesty” after the latter said he would vote against impeaching the president.
“All of the Democrats know you are right, but unlike you, they don’t have the ‘guts’ to say so!” said Mr Trump in a tweet.
Responding to news about how Mr Van Drew was considering switching parties, Mr Trump added: “Always heard Jeff is very smart!”