Richmond said he “will not be there to celebrate” and has “a deep respect and understanding” for decisions made by other CBC members who have announced plans to skip the event.
After Lewis said in an interview that he did not consider Trump to be a “legitimate” president, Trump tweeted that Lewis is “all talk, talk, talk” and should “focus on the burning and crime infested inner-cities.” He continued attacking Lewis, who was physically beaten on several occasions during the civil rights movement, on Twitter and in interviews.
At least 20 members of the 49-member caucus — including Lewis and the previous chairman, Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) — have announced plans not to attend Friday’s swearing-in ceremony. They are among nearly 70 House Democrats who are intending to skip it. But in recent days, several Democrats have stepped forward to explain why they will be attending despite their personal distaste for Trump.
Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) said Wednesday that she wants Trump “to see me front and center as he’s sworn in” and suggested that her colleagues were playing into Trump’s hands.
“I suspect President-elect Donald Trump will use this expression of free speech as an excuse to bypass Democrats and to push his extreme agenda with utter impunity,” she said in a statement. “With that in mind, I refuse to be a pawn in the president-elect’s efforts to rally support from congressional Republicans. … When he sees me, I want him to see The Resistance.”
Richmond said that he has a “responsibility to take every opportunity to educate the incoming president on the problems faced by our constituents, and the thoughtful solutions our members propose.” He offered another reason — to wish President Obama a fond farewell.
“I feel obliged to say goodbye to the first black president, who was continually disrespected over the course of his time in office,” Richmond said. “He deserves our gratitude and support.”