Two Democratic members of Washington’s congressional delegation, U.S. Reps. Pramila Jayapal and Adam Smith, plan to skip Donald Trump’s inauguration this week.
Two Democratic members of Washington’s congressional delegation plan to skip Donald Trump’s inauguration this week.
U.S. Reps. Pramila Jayapal, D-Seattle, and Adam Smith, D-Bellevue, say they’ll instead spend time in their districts, joining a growing list of four dozen Democrats who won’t attend Friday’s swearing-in ceremony.
The two are framing their absences in a different light. For Jayapal, it’s an act of protest, while Smith says he’d simply rather be home.
Jayapal, the newly elected 7th District representative, said her plan to ditch the event was not initially conceived as a boycott, but she changed her mind after Trump’s response to civil-rights icon U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Georgia, this past week.
After the Georgia Democrat, citing Russian hacking, said he didn’t view Trump as a “legitimate president,” the president-elect attacked Lewis on Twitter as “all talk, talk, talk — no action or results.”
In a statement, Jayapal said she understands she is breaking from a longstanding tradition of bipartisan attendance at presidential inaugurations.
“However, this is not a normal time and we cannot pretend it is so,” she said, citing Trump’s refusal to adequately separate himself from his international business interests.
“His disregard for the conflicts of interest he brings into this office, and his refusal to address those conflicts are the break from tradition on which we should focus,” she said.
Smith, too, has been intensely critical of Trump. But the two-decade congressional veteran didn’t cast his inaugural snub as an anti-Trump protest.
“As the House of Representatives is not in session the week of Inauguration, Congressman Smith will spend the District Work Period at home in Washington state meeting with his constituents,” said his spokeswoman, Rebecca Bryant, in an email.
The rest of Washington’s U.S. representatives — both Democrats and Republicans — plan to attend the inauguration, with some Democrats later participating in protest marches or other actions, their offices said.
U.S. Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray also plan to attend. A spokesman for Cantwell’s office described her plans as still “tentative” as of Tuesday.
In a Facebook post, Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Everett, wrote that it was his responsibility as an elected leader to attend — and to show that members of Congress will “watch this administration and the incoming president like a hawk from the first second.”
A spokeswoman for Rep. Denny Heck, D-Olympia, said his attendance at the inauguration is only fair because he had criticized Trump before the election for refusing to say whether he’d accept the vote results.
“The peaceful transfer of power is essential to our democracy and he feels very strongly about that part of it,” spokeswoman Kati Rutherford said. “Congressman Heck accepted the outcome.”