Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Top 2 Staffers Leave Her Congressional Office

Chief of Staff Saikat Chakrabarti will join efforts to develop the Green New Deal, and Communications Director Corbin Trent will work on the congresswoman's 2020 campaign.

Saikat Chakrabarti, the chief of staff to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) who sparked controversy earlier this summer by comparing House Democrats to Southern segregationists, is leaving her office, HuffPost confirmed Saturday.

Communications Director Corbin Trent will also step down from his role.

According to a statement from Ocasio-Cortez, Chakrabarti will join climate change-focused nonprofit New Consensus to help further develop the Green New Deal, an ambitious economic and environmental initiative promoted by Ocasio-Cortez and other progressive Democrats.

“I am extraordinarily grateful for his service to advance a bold agenda and improve the lives of the people in NY-14,” the congresswoman said. “From his co-founding of Justice Democrats to his work on the campaign and in the official office, Saikat’s goal has always been to do whatever he can to help the larger progressive movement, and I look forward to continuing working with him to do just that.”

Trent will return to Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign where he will direct communications for her 2020 reelection bid.

“With the Ocasio2020 campaign beginning to ramp up, I’ve asked Corbin to transition to the campaign full-time and he has agreed to do so,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “I’m looking forward to growing the movement with him in Queens and the Bronx and across the country.”

Chakrabarti, an alum of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) 2016 presidential campaign, co-founded Justice Democrats in 2017, a progressive political group that jump-started Ocasio-Cortez’s congressional run, leading to the defeat of incumbent Rep. Joe Crowley (D), who hadn’t faced a primary challenger since 2004.

In June, Chakrabarti appeared to inflame existing tensions between Ocasio-Cortez and moderate Democrats, writing in a now-deleted tweet that the New Democrats and the Blue Dog Caucus should instead be called the “New Southern Democrats,” a reference to pro-segregationists.

“They certainly seem hell bent to do to black and brown people today what the old Southern Democrats did the 40s,” he wrote.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who had feuded publicly with Ocasio-Cortez in the past over her progressive views, spoke out, calling the tweet “offensive,” according to Politico.

In July, Pelosi privately warned her colleagues to stop airing their political grievances on Twitter, telling them to come to her instead, NBC News reported.

Shortly after Pelosi delivered the word of caution, the House Democrats’ Twitter account took aim at Chakrabarti online for a critique of Rep. Sharice Davids (D-Kan.), who voted to pass an emergency federal appropriations bill for humanitarian aid and security at the southern border, such as President Donald Trump’s wall. 

Frustrated by Davids’ decision, which the bills’ opponents said gave into Trump’s demands, Chakrabarti said she was one of a horde of Democrats voting “as a block to criminalize immigrants.”

“I don’t believe Sharice is a racist person, but her votes are showing her to enable a racist system,” he clarified.

In response, the House Democratic Caucus account tweeted back, “keep her name out of your mouth.” 

According to The Intercept, which first reported the news, Chakrabarti’s last day was Friday.