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Headline Inflates Impeachment Impact on Dems


Quick Take

A bogus headline claims that a “second Democrat” has left the party “in 24 hours” because of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. But one of them is a state senator who left the party a month ago and his decision had nothing to do with the impeachment.


Full Story

A headline blaring, “Impeachment Backfiring: SECOND Democrat Leaves The Party In 24 Hours,” has been shared tens of thousands of times on Facebook since it was posted Dec. 15. But it’s not accurate.

The story refers to Rep. Jeff Van Drew and John Yudichak, a state senator in Pennsylvania.

The day before it was published, news reports that Van Drew had decided to leave the Democratic Party and join the Republicans began circulating online. Van Drew represents the 2nd Congressional District in New Jersey — which has more registered Democrats than Republicans, although President Donald Trump won the district in 2016. Van Drew has publicly opposed impeaching Trump, drawing praise from the president on Twitter.

When it came to the vote on impeachment, Van Drew was one of two Democrats to vote against the first article, abuse of power, and one of three Democrats to vote against the second article, obstruction of Congress.

Although Van Drew had recently declined to confirm whether or not he would actually leave the Democratic Party, he sat with Trump in the White House the day after the impeachment vote and announced that he would join the Republican Party.

On Nov. 19, almost a month before the reports about Van Drew possibly switching parties, Yudichak announced that he would leave the Democratic Party to become an independent and caucus with the Republicans in the Pennsylvania Senate. Now he is not affiliated with any party, his spokeswoman, Carly Simpson, confirmed in an interview with FactCheck.org.

The state senator has no bearing on the impeachment inquiry, and he hasn’t said anything about impeachment in the many interviews he’s given about his decision. Rather, he’s repeatedly said some version of what he told Neil Cavuto of Fox News on Nov. 23: “I don’t see it as leaving the Democratic Party or embracing the Republican Party. What I’m doing in moving to become an independent is really trying to change the toxic conversation that we have going on here in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and across the country.”

Asked if Yudichak has a position on impeachment, Simpson told us, “he’s a state senator — we’re not getting involved in that.”

Also, in October, Yudichak endorsed Democrat Joe Biden for president, and said in late November on PBS’ “Keystone Edition” that he would continue to support Biden for president “and continue to support other Democratic ideas.”

So, the story that follows the bogus headline is wrong to claim that “Yudichak’s announcement comes less than 24 hours since we learned that New Jersey Democratic Congressman Jeff Van Drew has also made a decision that speaks volumes.” Yudichak announced his decision nearly a month prior, and it had nothing to do with the impeachment inquiry.

Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here.

Update, Dec. 19: We updated the story after Van Drew announced that he would join the Republican Party.

Sources

Rufful, David. “Impeachment Backfiring: SECOND Democrat Leaves The Party In 24 Hours.” AnalyzingAmerica.org. 15 Dec 2019.

Hayes, Christal. “Is Rep. Jeff Van Drew a Democrat or Republican? He won’t say on eve of impeachment vote.” USA Today. 17 Dec 2019.

Learn-Andes, Jennifer. “Yudichak switching party registration from Democrat to Independent.” Times Leader. 19 Nov 2019.

Simpson, Carly. Spokeswoman, John Yudichak. Interview with FactCheck.org. 18 Dec 2009.