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Growing list of Democratic representatives plan to skip Trump’s inauguration

Two dozen representatives won't go, many of them citing Trump's attack against Rep. John Lewis.


Chris Tognotti


Published Jan 15, 2017   Updated May 25, 2021, 5:01 am CDT

With the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump just days away, a growing number of Democrats say they won’t be attending the ceremony. 

Those who plan to skip the event have cited a number of reasons, including American intelligence agencies alleging Russian interference in the election, Trump’s hard-right slate of cabinet appointments, the Obamacare repeal-centered agenda of the congressional GOP, and the president-elect’s incendiary tweets. The most common refrain among those ditching the event, however, is anger and dismay over Trump’s derogatory remarks about civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis of Georgia. 

As of this writing, 43 Democratic representatives have announced that they will not attend the inauguration. The full list is as follows:

  • Arizona representative Raul Grijalva will reportedly be skipping the inauguration in favor of heading to his home state and speaking to constituents. Grijalva, according to NBC News, says his choice was driven by “the disrespect shown to millions and millions of Americans by this incoming administration, and by the actions we are taking here in this Congress.”
  • More than a dozen California representatives are refusing to attend: Jared Huffman, Mark DeSaulnier, Barbara Lee, Ted Lieu, Maxine Waters, Mark Takano, Lucille Roybal-Allard, Zoe Lofgren, Jerry McNerney, Grace Napolitano, Raul Ruiz, Karen Bass, and Judy Chu. Huffman says he will not applaud for a “dark and dangerous chapter” of American history, while DeSaulnier cited “deep personal conviction.” Lieu, Takano, and Chu have all announced they’ll be staying away in solidarity with Lewis. Lee cited Russian hacking, and accusations of white nationalism against incoming Trump strategist Steve Bannon. Lofgren said she was “not in the mood to celebrate” Trump as the incoming president. Karen Bass, whose decision was confirmed by a spokesman to the Washington Post but the Los Angeles Times lists as “not sure,” made a Twitter poll for her constituents. Waters, for her part, was pretty straightforward.

  • Massachusetts representative Katherine Clark has refused to attend, tweeting a statement that the “anti-woman, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim” Trump squandered his chance to change course during his transition period, and saying she refuses to participate in his “normalization.”

  • Wisconsin representative Mark Pocan cited allegations of Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign official John Podesta, as well as Trump’s attacks against Lewis, to explain why he won’t attend the inauguration.

  • Oregon representatives Kurt Schrader, Peter DeFazio, and Earl Blumenauer plan to avoid the inauguration, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting. Blumenauer called the inauguration “not a productive use of my time,” and Trump’s campaign “the antithesis of everything I’ve worked for in public service.” Schrader was slightly more open-minded, saying he’s never been impressed by Trump, but would support him if he believed he was “doing the right thing for the country.” That said, Schrader believes Trump “hasn’t proved himself to me at all yet, so I respectfully decline to freeze my ass out there in the cold for this particular ceremony.” DeFazio’s reasoning was less specific to Trump, telling OPB he prefers to avoid all the “pomp and circumstance events in Washington.”
  • Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge tweeted in support of Lewis and said she would stay at home in Cleveland instead of attending the inauguration. 

  • New York representatives Jose Serrano, Yvette Clarke, Nydia Velazquez, Jerrold Nadler, and Adriano Espaillat are all refusing to attend. Serrano tweeted that he “cannot celebrate the inauguration of a man who has no regard for my constituents.” Clarke, like many others, cited Trump’s attacks on Lewis as the cause. Velazquez simply announced she would not attend the inauguration, but will attend the Women’s March on Washington the following day. Nadler cited Trump’s rhetoric and actions and said he “cannot in good conscience participate in this inauguration.” And Espaillat explained his rationale in a Facebook post, citing Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream, and saying “President-elect Donald Trump is trying to take us back! And the people Trump is appointing– Steve Bannon, Jeff Sessions – are trying to take us back!”
  • Washington representatives Pramila Jayapal and Adam Smith are staying away come Inauguration Day, with Jayapal citing Trump’s disrespect toward Lewis, and a statement from Smith stating simply that he’ll “spend the District Work Period at home in Washington state meeting with his constituents,” according to NBC News.

  • Illinois representative Luis Gutierrez made it clear in remarks on the House floor that he will not attend, saying he couldn’t face his family if he did. He’ll be attending the Women’s March on Washington the follow day.

I could not look at my wife, my daughters or my grandson in the eye if I sat there and attended as if everything that candidate Donald Trump had said about The women, about The Latinos, or The Blacks, The Muslims or any of the other things he said in his speeches and Tweets – that any of that is OK or erased from my memory.

We all heard the tape when Donald Trump was bragging – bragging! – about grabbing women by their private parts without their consent.  It is something I can never un-hear…

Sorry.  That is never OK.  It is never just locker room talk.  It is offensive and, if he ever actually did it, it is criminal.

  • Michigan representative John Conyers confirmed to CNN that he will not attend the inauguration, although he reportedly did not offer any detailed reason.

  • Missouri representative William Lacy Clay is also staying away, with his spokesman telling the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he’d be speaking to children at a St. Louis school district rather than attend Trump’s swearing-in.

  • Lewis himself, the civil rights icon who challenged the legitimacy of Trump’ electoral victory this week, will also not be present at the inauguration.

  • Pennsylvania congressmen Brendan Boyle and Dwight Evans are both boycotting the inauguration. In a note posted to Facebook, Boyle said that while he accepts and respects the decision of the American people, he won’t “applaud the desecration of the most important office in the history of the world” and he won’t celebrate it. Evans name-checked Lewis, called for an investigation into Russian hacking, and noted that he doesn’t support the appeal of the Affordable Care Act as his reasons for not attending.
  • Florida representatives Darren Soto and Frederica S. Wilson will not attend. Soto told WFTV that his decision was due to Trump’s attacks on Lewis. Wilson’s absence, however, may just be a coincidence: she’ll be attending a wedding that day.
  • Rep Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), who’s currently in the running to become the next Democratic National Committee Chair, refuses to celebrate a man who “preaches a politics of division and hate.”

  • Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.) plans on participating in an Interfaith Prayer Vigil in Trenton during the exact time Trump is inaugurated and invites others to join her.

  • Al Green (D-Texas) is the first Texas representative to boycott the inauguration. Citing Dr. Martin Luther King’s quote about taking a position despite it not being safe, popular, or politic, he concludes that “conscience says it is the right thing to do.”

  • Reps. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Anthony Brown (D-Md.), and Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) all cited Lewis as among their reasons for not attending the inauguration. Brown also mentioned what he described as Trump’s unpresidential remarks for his reasons not to attend. Pingree, who plans to attend the Women’s March on Washington before she returns to Congress, also cited Trump’s disparaging comments, his business interests, and threatening people’s civil liberties. Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) said, “it would be the height of hypocrisy” for him to attend and cited Russia’s influence, Trump’s lies, and his insults for people with disabilities and anyone who disagrees with him, and his disrespect for women. Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) told the Washington Post that Trump’s actions after winning the election are unacceptable and “an embarrassment to our country and to the office of the presidency.”

With just days to go before Inauguration Day, it’s entirely possible that this list will swell even further. Low attendance among Democratic representatives would mirror some of the trouble the Trump transition team reportedly had luring top talent to perform. At this point, beyond country music star Toby Keith, they’ve confirmed 3 Doors Down, among others. A Bruce Springsteen cover band, once confirmed to play the Garden State Presidential Inaugural Gala, has since withdrawn based “SOLELY on the respect and gratitude we have for Bruce and the E Street Band.”

Update 8:53am Ct, Jan. 17: The number of lawmakers has now grown to 43. We’ve added those members of Congress to the list, along with their reasons for boycotting the inauguration.

Additional reporting by Michelle Jaworski.

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*First Published: Jan 15, 2017, 5:02 pm CST