Two of United States Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s top aides have decided to leave her office, The Intercept reported on Saturday. The move is reportedly effective immediately.
Saikat Chakrabarti, Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff, and Corbin Trent, her director of communications, have been alongside the Congresswoman since her primary run and were instrumental in planning her victory last year.
“Saikat has decided to leave the office of Rep Ocasio-Cortez to work with New Consensus to further develop plans for a Green New Deal,” Trent said in a statement to The Intercept. “We are extraordinarily grateful for his service to advance a bold agenda and improve the lives of the people in NY-14. From his co-founding of Justice Democrats to his work on the Ocasio-Cortez campaign and in the official office, Saikat’s goal has always been to do whatever he can to help the larger progressive movement, and we look forward to continuing working with him to do just that.”
New Consensus is a grassroots organisation that is attempting to raise awareness about the Green New Deal championed by progressive Democrats, including Ocasio-Cortez.
Trent will lead the communications department for Ocasio-Cortez’s re-election campaign but will remain in his current post till the end of August. Chakrabarti’s last day was on August 2. Ocasio-Cortez said Trent was “shifting to our campaign side so we can work on some ambitious comms projects we have been looking forward to working on”.
Chakrabarti has been in the eye of a few controversies in the last few months. Several right-wing media outlets in the US criticised Chakrabarti for wearing a T-shirt with the face of alleged “Nazi admirer” Subhas Chandra Bose.
In December 2018, Chakrabarti appeared in a video for NowThis News. In the clip, Chakrabarti spoke about working with Ocasio-Cortez and what her community expects of her. The video resurfaced several months later. On July 10, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency published an article describing Bose as an “Indian nationalist who collaborated with the Nazis”. Subhas Chandra Bose had gone to Germany in 1941, during World War II, to seek help Adolf Hitler’s help to free India from British rule. To do so, Bose had formed the Azad Hind Fauz or Indian National Army.
For some American right wingers, Chakrabarti’s T-shirt was a handy stick with which to attack Ocasio-Cortez.
Last month, Chakrabarti also stirred up a controversy with a series of tweets attacking moderate Democrats who had voted for border security bill opposed by progressive Democrats. In one tweet, he had called them “new Southern Democrats.” They “certainly seem hell bent to do to black and brown people today what the old Southern Democrats did in the 40s,” he had said. He later deleted the tweet. “Who is this guy and why is he explicitly singling out a Native American woman of color?” House Democratic leaders had asked in response on Twitter.
However, Ocasio-Cortez denied the staff changes were in any way related to last month’s public fight and said the departures were planned in advance.