Former Rep. Mickey Edwards says he's leaving the GOP because it has 'become a cult' under Trump: 'It's no longer a political party'

John L. Dorman
·3 min read
Mickey Edwards
Former Rep. Mickey Edwards of Oklahoma, right, with NBC journalist Chuck Todd. Riccardo S. Savi/WireImage
  • Former Rep. Mickey Edwards of Oklahoma, known as a stalwart conservative during his days on Capitol Hill, said on Thursday that he is leaving the Republican Party because it has become a "cult" under President Donald Trump.

  • In an interview with KFOR-TV, the Oklahoma City-based NBC affiliate, Edwards decried Republicans who backed Trump's monthslong effort to overturn President-elect Joe Biden's election win, even after the deadly Capitol riots that claimed five lives.

  • "This has become a cult," he said. "It's no longer a political party. It's a cult. It's the kind of a cult that when the leader of the cult does anything, no matter what it is, or how awful it is, they voted," he said.

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Former Rep. Mickey Edwards of Oklahoma, known as a stalwart conservative during his days on Capitol Hill, said on Thursday that he is leaving the Republican Party because it has "become a cult" under President Donald Trump.

In an interview with KFOR-TV, the Oklahoma City-based NBC affiliate, and in a personal essay on The Bulwark, Edwards lamented the current direction of the GOP, criticizing Republicans who sought to overturn the 2020 presidential election results and even after the deadly Capitol riots on Jan. 6.

"There is no Republican Party anymore that has values, principles, morals, anything," he told KFOR-TV. "We thought taxes could be too high and harmful, we thought regulation could be too much and harmful, we should have a strong military - I agreed with all of that. I still agree with that."

Read also: 'It was degrading': Black Capitol custodial staff talk about what it felt like to clean up the mess left by violent pro-Trump white supremacists

A longtime critic of Trump, Edwards, who served in Congress from 1977 to 1993 and chaired the House Republican Policy Committee, cowrote a letter with former GOP Rep. Charles Djou of Hawaii last year that blasted the president as "an ill-formed man who lacks basic self-control." In the letter, Edwards and Djou also backed President-elect Joe Biden's 2020 campaign.

Since his November election loss, Trump has consistently questioned the legitimacy of the election and his allies sought to invalidate mail-in votes in key swing states. For months, the president's legal team unleashed a plethora of lawsuits across the country seeking to overturn the election, which went nowhere.

In the KFOR-TV interview, Edwards decried Trump's influence over GOP members of the Oklahoma congressional delegation who continued to contest Biden's election after the harrowing riots.

"This has become a cult," he said. "It's no longer a political party. It's a cult. It's the kind of a cult that when the leader of the cult does anything, no matter what it is, or how awful it is, they voted," Edwards said.

He added: "They voted to question the election results even after people came into the Capitol, tried to kill them and killed a police officer who was trying to protect them."

Edwards has registered as an independent but hopes that the GOP will reorient itself going forward, specifically calling out the GOP senators who initially led in the effort to overturn the election results.

"You've got the Josh Hawleys, and the Ted Cruzes and the James Lankfords, and these people who are letting their personal ambition, and fear of the voters, they want to inherit those voters, and it's leading them to real dark paths," he said. "I don't know what the future is, but for me it's outside of the Republican Party."

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