Joe Scarborough, the longtime Republican political figure and MSNBC host whose public feud with President Donald Trump grew to a fevered pitch two weeks ago amid a series of heated attacks, said he is leaving the Republican Party.
“I’ve got to become an independent," Scarborough, a one-time Republican congressman and prominent figure in the conservative media sphere, told CBS’ Stephen Colbert during an interview airing Tuesday night.
Speaking alongside his co-host and fiance, Mika Brzezinski, who drew the ire of the president in a series of personal social media attacks, Scarborough questioned why more Republicans didn’t stand up to Trump’s comments and policies, casting them as standing in opposition to his party’s values — or rather, his former party.
"I think it’s inexplicable. This is well before Donald Trump was elected president that my party has betrayed their core values," Scarborough said, citing Trump’s proposed travel ban targeting Muslim-majority countries as a policy position that he felt did not align with the Republican Party’s values.
Scarborough, who called Trump’s rhetoric "disturbing," accused Republicans of turning a blind eye to Trump’s actions.
"You have to ask yourself, what exactly is the Republican Party willing to do? How far are they willing to go? How much of this country and our values are they willing to sell out?" a visibly frustrated Scarborough asked.
Pressed on his own party status, he replied: “I am a Republican but I’m not going to be a Republican anymore."
A conservative during his days as a Florida congressman, Scarborough was part of the Republican wave in 1994 that gave the GOP its first majority in the House in four decades and elevated Newt Gingrich to the speakership. He was reelected three times before resigning in September 2001.
President Donald Trump was rebuked by lawmakers from across the aisle after tweeting June 29 that "low I.Q. Crazy Mika" Brzezinski was “bleeding badly from a face-lift" during a past visit to his Mar-a-Lago estate. The comments, which were defended by the White House, resulted in several days of public feuding.