WGBH: 'I Am Not Attending Tonight's Sham.' At Least 8 Reps Opting Out Of The State Of The Union

February 4, 2020
In The News

U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley announced via Tweet that she will not be attending President Donald Trump's State of the Union address Tuesday night.

"I am not attending tonight’s sham," she tweeted around 5 p.m.

In the tweet, she retweeted a message from her official congressional account that included a photo of her dressed in black, arms folded, in front of the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C.

"The State of the Union is hurting because of the occupant of the White House, who consistently demonstrates contempt for the American people, contempt for Congress & contempt for our constitution," she said. "I cannot in good conscience attend tonight's sham."

The congresswoman's office issued a statement to WGBH News elaborating her stance when contacted.

“The occupant of the White House incessantly stokes fear in people of color, women, healthcare providers, LGBTQ+ communities, low-income families, and many more. He does not embody the principles, the responsibility, the grace, nor the integrity that is required of the President of the United States," the statement read. "“The State of the Union is hurting because of the occupant of the White House, who consistently demonstrates contempt for the American people, contempt for Congress, and contempt for our constitution - strong-arming a sham impeachment trial in the Senate. This presidency is not legitimate."

Pressley's statement continued, “On the eve of Senate Republicans covering up transgressions and spreading misinformation, I cannot in good conscience attend a sham State of the Union when I have seen firsthand the damage Donald J. Trump’s rhetoric and policies have inflicted on those I love and those I represent.”

New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez retweeted Pressley's announcement in support. The congresswoman said she also will not be going.

"None of this is normal, and I will not legitimize it," Ocasio-Cortez said. "Consequently, I will not be attending the State of the Union."

Pressley, Ocasio-Cortez as well as Representatives Rashida Tlaib (Mich.) and Ilhan Omar (Minn.) form a group of women senators of color popularly referred to as "The Squad" that is known for its fierce opposition to Trump administration policies.

Both Omar and Tlaib confirmed they would be attending via Twitter, though Omar did include a caveat.

"I am attending tonight’s address not to confer any legitimacy on his actions, his statements, or his presidency," Omar said. "I am attending on behalf of all of those targeted by this President to say, ‘We are greater than hate.’ My presence tonight is resistance."

Six other democratic representatives announced a boycott of the president's address in the hours leading up to it. They include: Rep. Al Green (Tex.), Rep. Steve Cohen (Tenn.), Rep. Frederica Wilson (Fla.), Rep. Earl Blumenauer (Ore.), Rep. Maxine Waters (Calif.) and Rep. Hank Wilson (Ga.).

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