Rep. Jamie Raskin becomes second Maryland congressman to sit out Donald Trump's inauguration

WASHINGTON — A second Democrat in Maryland's congressional delegation said Tuesday that he will skip President-elect Donald Trump's inauguration, adding that he could not stomach the Republican's "relentless trafficking in bigotry, misogyny and fear."

Freshman Rep. Jamie Raskin of Montgomery County, who represents the state's 8th Congressional District, announced his decision just days after saying in an interview that he viewed attending the ceremony as a "constitutional duty" and that he did not want to "run away from this."


Raskin, a Takoma Park man, and fellow freshman Rep. Anthony G. Brown of Prince George's County, are the only two members of Maryland's mostly Democratic congressional delegation who have announced plans to skip the event. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings of Baltimore said Tuesday that he remains undecided.

Dozens of Democrats from across the country are planning to sit out the inauguration in a protest whose scope and personal tone observers described as unprecedented.


"As the hour approaches, I realize that I cannot bring myself to go," Raskin said in a statement. "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."

Raskin, a constitutional law professor and former state lawmaker, had told Bethesda Magazine on Sunday that he would attend the ceremony on Capitol Hill because "I just know that if I'm going to vote to impeach the man at some point, I would like to be able to look him in the eye on Inauguration Day."

Trump stirred anger among Democrats with his tweets on Saturday directed at Democratic Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, a civil rights icon who was among the original Freedom Riders. Lewis, who also boycotted President George W. Bush's inauguration in 2001, had questioned the legitimacy of Trump's victory in an interview over the weekend.

A Trump spokesman brushed off the boycotts.

"I think that when you wake up on Friday and see the enormous crowds that are there, you're going to recognize that it is going to be an inauguration for all Americans," incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer said. "Obviously we'd love for every member of Congress to attend, but if they don't, that's some great seats that other folks can hopefully partake in."

Most of Maryland's lawmakers — including its two senators and five of eight House members — told The Baltimore Sun they will attend the inauguration. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who lost the election to Trump, plans to attend, as does Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, who did not support his fellow Republican.

"This is part of the ritual of American democracy, the peaceful transfer of power, and I do have respect for the office of the presidency," Sen. Chris Van Hollen said in an interview.

"I also respect other people's decision here," Van Hollen said. "I will attend the swearing-in ceremony but none of the celebration that follows."


Sen. Ben Cardin said in a statement that the ceremony is more about the office of the president than the individual.

"This is completely unprecedented in modern times," said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, about the tone surrounding the inauguration and the number of Democrats sitting out the event.

Sabato, who said he has watched every inauguration since 1960 and attended many, said the climate speaks to increasing political divisions and "to the controversial nature of Trump."

Former president Richard Nixon faced Vietnam War demonstrations — and boycotts by Democratic members of Congress — during his second inauguration in 1973. But Sabato and other analysts said it feels more personal this year.

"Everything has become so partisan," said Michael Heaney, assistant professor of organizational studies and political science at the University of Michigan. "People who go to the inauguration now have to say, 'Why are you not standing behind John Lewis?'"

The Vietnam War protests were not the first to be tied to celebrations surrounding a president's new term. A large women's suffrage march was organized in 1913 to coincide with President Woodrow Wilson's inauguration, said Jim Bendat, author of "Democracy's Big Day: The Inauguration of Our President, 1789-2013."


But Bendat said inaugurations are more commonly uplifting.

"Inauguration day is not supposed to be about one individual," he said. "It's supposed to be a day to celebrate democracy."

Another women's march is planned this year on Saturday.

Republican Rep. Andy Harris of Baltimore County said each lawmaker has to make up their own mind on whether to attend. He said he believed many Republicans probably quietly sat out President Barack Obama's inauguration in 2009.

"I think they should have taken a page out of the Hillary Clinton campaign playbook when they said when the election is over the results should be regarded as legitimate," Harris said.


Not attending:

Rep. Anthony G. Brown (D)

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D)


Who in Md. delegation will attend Trump inauguration?

Planning to attend:

Sen. Ben Cardin (D)

Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D)

Maryland Policy & Politics

Maryland Policy & Politics


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Rep. Andy Harris (R)

Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D)


Rep. John Sarbanes (D)

Rep. Steny Hoyer (D)

Rep. John Delaney (D)


Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D)