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They voted Republican for years; this time, James Comey and a host of others backed Biden

In a message posted on Twitter, former FBI director James Comey smiled while in a Biden-Harris T-shirt, gripping a mug with the same logo and telling followers to ''Vote for your country.'' President Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen held up an ''I voted'' sticker, tagging the Democratic candidates and adding the hashtag ''Mea culpa.'' And, after submitting his ballot on Wednesday, Vermont Governor Phil Scott, a Republican, told reporters he ''ended up voting for Joe Biden.''

''It’s something that I have never done in my lifetime,'' the governor said. ''I’ve never voted for a Democrat for president. So I had to do some soul searching. That’s why it took me so long to come to this point.''

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The three are among a host of prominent current and former Republican figures who publicly revealed a vote for the opposite party’s presidential nominee this week, as one of the most contentious elections in the nation’s history reached its crescendo. Others, including several who previously worked in the Trump administration itself, have also turned against the incumbent to support the Democratic candidate.

There are at least two examples of the reverse phenomenon. Rod Blagojevich, former Democratic governor of Illinois, called himself a ''Trump-ocrat'' after Trump commuted his prison sentence. He appeared this week at a pro-Trump rally in Chicago, where he praised the president for ''remaking the Republican Party.'' Georgia state Representative Vernon Jones, a Black man who described himself as a lifelong Democrat, spoke in support of Trump at the Republican National Convention.

''Why is a lifelong Democrat speaking at the Republican National Convention?'' he asked. ''That’s a fair question. And here’s your answer: The Democratic Party does not want Black people to leave the mental plantation they’ve had us on for decades.''

But during a presidency marked by division, including within the GOP itself, most of those switching sides are Republicans voting Democrat. Some have also changed parties: Comey says he is no longer a Republican because of the party’s embrace of Trump, and Cohen, who had been a Democrat until 2017, left the GOP in 2018.

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Many, however, remain committed members of the GOP.

Scott, who became the first incumbent Republican governor to publicly reveal a vote for the Democratic candidate, said he had come to the conclusion that ''it wasn’t enough'' for him to simply not vote for Trump. He said he was motivated by concern that Trump ''has had four years to unite this country and has failed to do so.'' As a result, he said, he made the difficult decision to ''put country over party.''

''I don’t agree with all of Joe Biden’s policies,'' he said. ''In fact, I disagree on a number of them. But I think he can heal the country. I think he can bring us together.''

Former Republican National Committee communications director Ryan Mahoney also invoked the ''country over party'' line in a tweet showing off his ballot with the bubble filled in for Biden and Kamala Harris.

Biden’s list of GOP supporters includes high-profile figures such as former secretary of state Colin Powell, former RNC chairman Michael Steele, former presidential candidate Carly Fiorina and the family of the late senator John McCain. Past Republican governors who support Biden include Rick Snyder of Michigan, John Kasich of Ohio, Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania, and Christine Todd Whitman of New Jersey.

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Former Trump staffers who revealed plans to vote for his opponent include Miles Taylor, the former chief of staff in the Department of Homeland Security who revealed himself to be the White House insider previously known as ''Anonymous.''

''I was wrong,'' he wrote Tuesday on Twitter. ''Unelected bureaucrats never stood a chance of steering Trump away from wrongdoing. Only THE PEOPLE can hold him accountable. And today is the day.''

Another former Trump administration official backing Biden: Olivia Troye, a senior adviser on the White House coronavirus task force who left the Trump administration in August. She said in September that the president’s response to the coronavirus pandemic showed a ''flat-out disregard for human life.''

Last week, Troye tweeted a photograph of herself after voting a straight Democratic ticket for what she said was the first time in her life. She wore a ''Republican Voters Against Trump'' face mask and called on Americans to stop Trump ''from continuing to destroy our country.'' She signed off with the hashtag ''CountryOverParty.''

Short-lived White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci endorsed Biden last spring. During an interview with Yahoo Finance, the financier argued that people who support Trump for financial reasons ''aren’t seeing the overall macro picture.''

''He made the country sicker, he made it weaker and he made it poorer,'' he said. ''And it’s time for him to leave the stage, and we’ve got to rebuild the country.''

Some Republicans who said they would not vote for Trump said they also would not vote for Biden. Former national security adviser John Bolton told the National Press Club that Trump is ''not competent to be president'' but said he planned to write in ''a Republican conservative yet to be determined.'' Maryland Governor Larry Hogan wrote in the late President Ronald Reagan.

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Other Republicans who have criticized the president, including Senator Mitt Romney of Utah and former president George W. Bush, reportedly took a different tack: They simply refused to reveal who got their votes. Romney, though, noted it wasn’t Trump.