WASHINGTON — Steve Schmidt, who was senior adviser to John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign and later an MSNBC contributor, said on Wednesday that he is leaving the Republican party, citing the Trump administration’s border separation policy as a factor in his decision.
He wrote on Twitter that “29 years and nine months ago I registered to vote and became a member of The Republican Party which was founded in 1854 to oppose slavery and stand for the dignity of human life. Today I renounce my membership in the Republican Party. It is fully the party of Trump.” He wrote that the GOP has “become a danger to our democracy and our values.”
Schmidt, who has been a critic of the Trump administration, said that he’s urging the election of Democratic majorities in the midterms.
“Season of renewal in our land is the absolute and utter repudiation of Trump and his vile enablers in the 2018 election by electing Democratic majorities. I do not say this as an advocate of a progressive agenda,” he wrote. “I say it as someone who retains belief in DEMOCRACY and decency.”
He said that the border separation policy is “connected to the worst abuses of humanity in our history.”
Schmidt’s announcement was the latest fallout from the border separation policy. The Associated Press reported that the Homeland Security secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, was drafting an order to end family separation, but it was not clear whether President Donald Trump would sign it. Democrats and a number of prominent Republicans have urged the president to end the policy.
“I’ll be signing something in a little while that’s going to do that,” Trump told reporters. “I’ll be doing something that’s somewhat preemptive and ultimately will be matched by legislation, I’m sure.”
Trump continued to press Congress to take action. House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters that the House on Thursday would vote on an immigration bill that includes provisions to end family separation. “We can enforce our immigration laws without breaking families apart,” he said.
But there are doubts that the legislation will pass, given disagreements among Republicans on its language and among Democrats who believe that the issue of separation has been used as a bargaining chip to extract concessions on a broader immigration bill.