In a reversal of plans, U.S. Jamie Raskin on Tuesday announced he will boycott Friday’s inauguration of Republican President-elect Donald Trump, whom he accused of “relentless trafficking in bigotry, misogyny and fear.”
Raskin, who was elected in November to represent District 8, said in an interview Sunday he believed it was his constitutional duty to attend the swearing-in ceremony, even though many fellow progressives were opting to sit it out.
“But, as the hour approaches, I realize that I cannot bring myself to go,” the Takoma Park Democrat said in a statement released Tuesday afternoon.
Raskin said he’d wanted to support the normal transition of power as he did when Republican Gov. Larry Hogan took office a couple years ago while Raskin was a state senator. But it was impossible to approach Trump’s inauguration with the same sentiment, he said.
Trump’s denial of Russian interference in the presidential election and his harsh and divisive language—including recent attacks on civil rights leader U.S. Rep. John Lewis—contributed to Raskin’s change of plans, he said.
“Given these dynamics and given that one can never have any confidence in what Trump might say or tweet, I cannot risk my presence at his inauguration being interpreted as any kind of endorsement of the normality of our situation,” he said.
Raskin is the second congressional representative from Maryland to announce plans to sit out the inauguration, with U.S. Rep. Anthony Brown on Monday revealing he would skip the event. Altogether, more than 50 Democratic lawmakers are participating in the boycott, The Washington Post has reported.
Here is Raskin’s full statement:
“For the last couple of weeks, I have assumed that I would attend the inauguration of Donald Trump, obviously not to show any support for his politics but as a gesture of constitutionalism, simply to witness the peaceful transfer of power from President Obama to the new administration. But, as the hour approaches, I realize that I cannot bring myself to go. I wish that these were normal times and that I could sit and applaud the normal workings of government as I did when Maryland Governor Larry Hogan was inaugurated in 2015 in Annapolis.
“But these are not normal times and I cannot pretend as if they are. The moral and political legitimacy of this presidency are in the gravest doubt. I cannot get over Trump’s refusal to deal seriously with the constitutional problems caused by his business entanglements with foreign governments and corporations. I cannot get past his stubborn denial of the enormity of Russia’s efforts to sabotage and undermine our presidential election (regardless of the victor). I cannot stomach his relentless trafficking in bigotry, misogyny and fear. And I am outraged and confounded by his continuing provocations against civil rights heroes, such as my colleague the great Congressman John Lewis, union leaders and other individual citizens. Given these dynamics and given that one can never have any confidence in what Trump might say or tweet, I cannot risk my presence at his inauguration being interpreted as any kind of endorsement of the normality of our situation. I will not attend the inauguration. I do not rejoice in this decision or take pride in it, any more than I would rejoice or take pride in going; the inauguration ceremony is just a fact of life now, and we must all deal with it as best we can. I am afraid that these kinds of searing moral and political conflicts are our destiny for a while.”