By Matthew Hoye and Jamie Gangel, CNN
Former Virginia Rep. Denver Riggleman said Sunday he no longer considers himself to be a Republican, telling Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union,” “I think the party left me some time ago.”
Riggleman, who worked as a technical adviser for the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol, later confirmed to CNN that he has left the Republican Party and that he will never run again as a Republican. Riggleman said he now considers himself an independent. He told CNN he “made the decision privately a month or two ago” but was making the formal announcement Sunday that he has left the party.
On “State of the Union,” Riggleman spoke about the influence some of the evidence he saw while advising the committee had on his decision.
“What I’ve seen behind the scenes has pushed me further away. That the party has moved away from conservative principles to this cult of personality that Liz Cheney is talking about. She’s absolutely correct,” he said, referring to Wyoming congresswoman who serves as the panel’s vice chair and lost her House GOP leadership position last year over her criticism of former President Donald Trump for his role in the January 6 attack.
“And when you see it behind the door, when you see the data, when you see the investigation, when you see those smart people and what they come up with, Jake, it’s absolutely stunning that cult of personality and also the belief systems. I don’t think any real conservative could follow at any point,” Riggleman said.
“It’s absolutely insane what people have sort of put their arms around. If you look at ‘Stop the Steal,’ if you look at, you know, some of the Covid issues with the vaccination conspiracy theories, when you look at all the things in total, the fact is that a lot of that has been pushed by people around the President,” he said, referring to Trump.
CNN reported in April that Riggleman would be leaving his position on the January 6 select committee to begin work with a nonprofit organization in Ukraine. Two sources familiar with the move told CNN that Riggleman’s upcoming exit was “amicable.”
Riggleman represented Virginia’s 5th Congressional District for one term from 2019 to 2021. He lost the GOP nomination for his central Virginia seat in 2020 to now-Rep. Bob Good, who criticized his opponent’s decision to officiate a wedding for a same-sex couple. Since leaving Congress, Riggleman has been an outspoken critic of Trump and GOP leadership in the House.
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CNN’s Ryan Nobles contributed to this report.