Joe Scarborough, the conservative co-host of MSNBC’s political commentary show Morning Joe, is leaving the Republican Party.
The full announcement will come during Tuesday night’s airing of the “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.” A two-minute clip of the segment was teased on the program’s Twitter account earlier Tuesday.
“I am a Republican, but I’m not going to be a Republican anymore,” Scarborough says to loud applause in the clip. “I’ve got to become an independent.”
Scarborough and his co-host, Mika 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 once considered Trump a close friend but distanced themselves from the president since he took office in January.
The tension escalated in the last several weeks when Brzezinski called into question Trump’s mental competency in a segment on their show. The president responded in a series of harsh tweets, calling the co-hosts “Psycho Joe” and “low-I. Q. Crazy Mika.” Trump also claimed that Brzezinski “was bleeding badly from a facelift” when her 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 president’s allegations false and offensive and said that they “have noticed a change in his behavior over the past few years.”
“Perhaps that is why we were neither shocked nor insulted by the president’s personal attack,” they wrote. “The Donald Trump we knew before the campaign was a flawed character but one who still seemed capable of keeping his worst instincts in check.”
In the “Late Show” segment, Scarborough said his dissatisfaction with the Republican Party has been building for some time.
“I think it’s inexplicable. This was well before Donald Trump was elected president that my party has betrayed their core values,” he said, criticizing Trump’s so-called “Muslim ban” and the party’s reluctance to admonish comments perceived as racist.
“It was disturbing through the entire campaign,” Scarborough continued. “In February, when he talked about David Duke and pretended he didn’t know who David Duke was and didn’t know what the Ku Klux Klan did. You didn’t have Republicans coming out, saying ‘I can never support Donald Trump because he’s racist.’ They had 1,000 other excuses why.”
Republicans, he said, turned the other way.
“They’re doing the same thing now and it’s actually disgusting,” Scarborough said. “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?”
The full interview will air Tuesday night at 11:35 p.m., according to “The Late Show” tweet.
Scarborough is the conservative voice of “Morning Joe,” often sparring alongside Brzezinksi. He was a U.S. Congressman from Florida from 1995 to 2001, and was part of a “small group of young Republican congressmen called the ‘New Federalists’ who were said to possess a surprising amount of power given their youth and lack of years in Congress,” according to his MSNBC biography page.
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 Trump’s political rise and rebuke him.