Joe Scarborough, the conservative co-host of MSNBCâs political commentary show âMorning Joe,â is leaving the Republican Party.
He made the announcementÂ Tuesday night during an appearance on âThe Late Show With Stephen Colbertâ alongside his co-host Mika Brzezinski. A two-minute clip of the segment was teased on the programâsÂ Twitter account earlier Tuesday.
Scarborough tore into what he characterized as a complacent Republican Party unwilling to stand up to President Trump.
âYou have to ask yourself, what exactly is the Republican Party willing to do?â Scarborough said toÂ Colbert. âHow far are they willing to go? How much of this country and our values are they willing to sell out?â
âArenât you a Republican?â Colbert asked.
âI am a Republican, but Iâm not going to be a Republican anymore,â Scarborough said to loud applause from the audience. âIâve got to become an independent.â
Scarborough and Brzezinski came under fire from President Trump and his administration in recent months for their sharp criticism of his leadership skills and conduct in the White House. The two, who announced their engagement in the spring, once considered Trump a close friend but distanced themselves from the president during his campaign.
Theyâve become even more critical after the inaugurationÂ in January.
The tension escalatedÂ in the last several weeks when Brzezinski called into question Trumpâs mental competency in a segment on their show. The president responded in a series of harsh tweets, calling the co-hosts âPsycho Joeâ and âlow-I. Q. Crazy Mika.â Trump also claimed that Brzezinski âwas bleeding badly from a faceliftâ when he saw her and Scarborough during a brief visit to Mar-a-Lago last year.
In a commentary the hosts wrote and published in The Washington Post, they called the presidentâs allegations false and offensive and said that they âhave noticed a change in his behavior over the past few years.â
âPerhaps that is why we were neither shocked nor insulted by the presidentâs personal attack,â they wrote. âThe Donald Trump we knew before the campaign was a flawed character but one who still seemed capable of keeping his worst instincts in check.â
In the âLate Showâ segment, Scarborough and Brzezinski addressed their complicated relationship with the president and his intense dislike of âMorning Joe.â
Colbert asked the duo what specific change they had seen in Trump since he announced his candidacy because, in the âThe Late Showâ hosts words, the business mogul has always been a âprimo tool.â
âHe used to know he was a tool,â Brzezinski replied, explaining that they believe Trump used to be aware and in control of the game he was playing. Now, Scarborough said, he is in over his head.
Scarborough said the modern day Republican Party was ânot a party that Ronald Reagan could associate with,â and not one he wants to claim anyÂ longer either. He told Colbert that he still believes in the core values of conservatism â lower taxes, small government â but that the partyâs silence in the face of Trumpâs racism is unacceptable.
His dissatisfaction, though, has been building for some time, Scarborough said.
âI think itâs inexplicable.Â This was well before Donald Trump was elected president that my party has betrayed their core values,â he said, criticizing Trumpâs so-called âMuslim banâ and the partyâs reluctance to admonish comments perceived as racist, including the presidentâs assertions that Indiana-bornÂ District Court Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel could not be impartialÂ because of his âMexican heritage.â
âIt was disturbing through the entire campaign,â Scarborough said. âIn February, when he talked about David Duke and pretended he didnât know who David Duke was and didnât know what the Ku Klux Klan did. You didnât have Republicans coming out, saying âI can never support Donald Trump because heâs racist.â They had 1,000 other excuses why.â
Republicans, he said, turned the other way.
âTheyâre doing the same thing now and itâs actually disgusting,â Scarborough said, referring to investigations into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.
âWhat have you heard from Republican leaders today?â Scarborough said. âNothing. Thereâs always silence.â
Scarborough has been the conservative voice of âMorning Joeâ for a decade, often sparring alongside Brzezinksi. He wasÂ a U.S. Congressman from Florida from 1995 to 2001, and part of a âsmall group of young Republican congressmen called the âNew Federalistsâ who were said to possess a surprising amount of power given their youth and lack of years in Congress,â according to his MSNBC biography page
That group of hard-line freshman Republicans brought Newt Gingrich to power, though Scarborough told New York Magazine in 2008 that the two ânever really clicked.â Scarborough had a âvisceral dislikeâ for President Bill Clinton in the 1990s and supported his impeachment, according to the New York Magazine. He was a staunch fiscal conservative who supported abolishing the Department of Education and cutting off AIDS funding for the Ryan White Act.
During the 2016 election cycle, a Vanity Fair profile called Scarborough the most influential Republican in America for being both among the first to predict Trumpâs political rise and rebuke him.
Trump regularly called into âMorning Joeâ during the early days of his candidacy and speak at length with Scarborough and Brzezinksi, as The Washington Post has reported. One such time was in February 2016, after Trump won the New Hampshire primary.
âYou guys have been supporters, and I really appreciate it,â Trump said. âAnd not necessarily supporters, but at least believers. You said thereâs some potential there.â
Some early critics of Scarboroughâs announcement were quick to point out his longtime friendship with Trump and willingness to give him a platform during the campaign.
Because what the Republican Party was doing for the last 37 years was just fine. But Donald Jr. is really too much.
â kara vallow (@teenagesleuth) July 12, 2017
to the independent party
lets have lunch
â ROSIE (@Rosie) July 12, 2017
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