Dozens of high-profile Republicans are leaving the party over the actions of former President Donald Trump and the rest of the GOP's failure to condemn them. According to a report by Reuters, several of these officials served in former President George W. Bush's White House — some in the highest echelons of his administration. The departures come with public statements and denouncements of Trump.
The Republican defectors all condemned Trump's conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election and his involvement in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. They reportedly hoped that Trump would recant his baseless claims of voter fraud and election tampering, or that other Republicans would finally turn their backs on him after the attempted insurrection. With many of the party's most prominent leaders still standing by him — and others remaining cautiously quiet — these Bush administration officials feel they have no choice but to leave the GOP.
"The Republican Party as I knew it no longer exists. I'd call it the cult of Trump," said Jimmy Gurulé, Bush's Undersecretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. Along with Gurulé, the departures include communications officer Kristopher Purcell, who told Reuters that between 60 and 70 former Bush administration officials are now publicly leaving the Republican party.
"The number is growing every day," he added. However, many of those leaving the party are retired or are not up for election, and therefore are not facing pressure to maintain good relations with Trump's fervent base. Republicans are reportedly divided over how to handle Trump without completely losing the support of his die-hard followers, expecting them to remain a vital voting bloc in the years to come.
Other Republicans have downplayed the significance of these departures. When asked for comment, the RNC directed Reuters to Fox News' recent interview of its chair, Ronna McDaniel. She said: "We're having a little bit of a spat right now. But we are going to come together. We have to." McDaniel also said that she believes Republicans will be united in opposition to President Joe Biden's policies, regardless of Trump.
Departing Bush administration officials disagree. The former Treasurer of the U.S., Rosario Marin, said that Republicans need to reckon with Trump by supporting his second impeachment before they can return to any sense of normalcy. Marin said: "If it continues to be the party of Trump, many of us are not going back. Unless the Senate convicts him and rids themselves of the Trump cancer, many of us will not be going back to vote for Republican leaders."