Former Northwest Florida congressman-turned-TV host Joe Scarborough plans to leave the Republican Party, he told “Late Show” host Stephen Colbert in an interview that will air on Tuesday night.
Elected in 1994’s so-called “Republican Revolution,” Scarborough represented Northwest Florida in Congress from 1995 to 2001, becoming the first Republican to represent the area since Reconstruction. During his time in Congress, Scarborough signed House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s “Contract with America” and received a 95 percent lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union.
After leaving Congress, Scarborough briefly returned to practicing law in Pensacola before embarking on a television career, becoming the host of MSNBC’s “Scarborough Country” in 2003. Since 2007, he’s hosted “Morning Joe,” the network’s flagship morning show.
A one-time friend of President Donald Trump — who frequently appeared on the program during the GOP primary in 2015 and 2016 — Scarborough has since become a frequent critic of the president. In June, Trump lashed out against Scarborough and co-host Mika Brzezinski via social media, calling Morning Joe “poorly rated” and referring to Scarborough and Brzezinski as “Psycho Joe” and “low I.Q. Crazy Mika.”
In an excerpt of the interview released Tuesday afternoon, Scarborough said his dissatisfaction with the GOP began during last year’s presidential primary.
“This is well before Donald Trump was elected president that my party has betrayed their core values,” Scarborough said. “I remember back in 2015 when Donald Trump supported a Muslim ban. I said on the air, it’s very simple, it’s black and white, I can never vote for anybody in my party that would say they were going to ban people because of the god they worship.”
Scarborough also indirectly called President Trump a racist, citing Trump’s initial refusal to disavow the support of white supremacist David Duke as well as Trump’s racist comments about a Mexican-American federal judge.
“Republicans didn’t come out and say, ‘I can never vote for Donald Trump because he’s a racist,'” Scarborough said. “Time and time and time again, they turned the other way. And they’re doing the same thing now, and it’s disgusting, and 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?”
Colbert interjected, “But aren’t you a Republican?”
“I am a Republican, but I’m not going to be a Republican anymore,” Scarborough answered. “I’ve got to become an independent.
The full interview will air on CBS’ “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” Tuesday evening at 10:35 p.m. Central time.