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At least four Democrats to boycott Trump State of the Union address

At least four House Democrats are boycotting President Trump‘s State of the Union address on Tuesday night on the eve of the expected Senate vote to acquit him in his impeachment trial.

All four Democrats — Reps. Al Green (Texas), Steve Cohen (Tenn.), Earl Blumenauer (Ore.) and Frederica Wilson (Fla.) — have also opted against attending Trump’s past annual addresses to Congress in recent years as an expression of protest against his presidency.
 
Green, one of the first and most ardent backers of impeaching Trump, said Tuesday that he will not be going this year either.

“Because of an impeached, reckless, ruthless, lawless, shameless, corrupt, & unapologetically bigoted president – who is still engaging in a coverup, the state of the House, the state of the Senate, and the #StateOfTheUnion are divided,” Green tweeted. “I will NOT attend #SOTU2020.”

At least six House Democrats boycotted Trump’s State of the Union address last year. In addition to the four who are not going on Tuesday, Georgia Democratic Reps. John Lewis and Hank Johnson did not attend last year either.

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Lewis, the civil rights icon, has not said if he will attend this year. Johnson, meanwhile, indicated that he is not likely to go to Tuesday’s address.

“During normal times, I would consider it my duty to attend and hear the President’s agenda for the upcoming year. Unfortunately, these are not normal times,” Johnson tweeted on Monday.

That came after 14 Democrats skipped the address in 2018, which came shortly after Trump caused a firestorm for describing African nations as “s—hole countries.” Many Democrats also wanted to make a point amid their frustrations after Trump’s first full year in office.


It will be the third year in a row that Blumenauer, Cohen and Wilson have skipped Trump’s State of the Union addresses. Green — along with Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), another longtime impeachment supporter — also did not attend Trump’s joint address to Congress in 2017, which came shortly after his inauguration and therefore technically was not a State of the Union speech.

More than 60 Democrats also boycotted Trump’s inauguration, but most still attended the joint address a little over a month later.


Trump went after Wilson, another CBC member, in 2017 after she criticized his handling over a call to the widow of a fallen solider, tweeting that she was “wacky” and “killing the Democrat Party.”

Wilson said Tuesday that Trump is “too disrespectful toward women, immigrant children, Gold Star families and poor people.”

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Cohen, who previously co-introduced articles of impeachment against Trump in 2017, said in a statement on Monday that he “will not be a witness to puffery and prevarication flowing while our Constitution and our laws are disrespectfully and dangerously flouted.”

Blumenauer also said that he will continue his streak since 2018 of skipping Trump’s address.

“I have chosen not to dignify Trump’s parade of lies about health care, his persistent exaggeration, and his personal attacks with my attendance at this year’s State of the Union Address. His appalling performances each day continue to justify that decision, and I have no doubt tomorrow night will be more of the same — even possibly worse,” Blumenauer said in a statement on Monday.

 
Most Democrats do plan to attend Trump’s speech on Tuesday night, with female lawmakers planning to reprise their tradition of wearing white — the color of suffragettes — to show solidarity with women.

Trump will not be the first president to deliver a State of the Union address before the Senate had concluded its impeachment trial into his alleged misconduct.

Then-President Bill Clinton delivered his State of the Union address in January 1999 while the Senate was still conducting an impeachment trial over his affair with a White House intern. Clinton pointedly did not discuss impeachment during his speech and kept a focus on his domestic policy agenda.

Several GOP lawmakers boycotted Clinton’s address that year, arguing that it was inappropriate for him to deliver a State of the Union address before the end of the impeachment process.

Then-Rep. Bob Barr (R-Ga.), who was one of the 13 House Republicans serving as a prosecutor in the Senate trial, was among the boycotters because he thought it was “inappropriate and awkward for the president to make this speech directly to those sitting in judgment of him and those presenting the case against him in the Senate.”

According to an Associated Press article from the time, then-Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) maintained that despite any “discomfort,” Congress would listen to Clinton’s remarks “out of respect for the office of the presidency and for the state of our union.”

The Senate is expected to vote Wednesday to acquit Trump on the two articles of impeachment passed by the House in December that accuse the president of abusing his power and obstructing Congress in his pursuit to pressure the Ukrainian government to investigate his political opponents.

The Senate narrowly voted Friday not to call any witnesses in the trial, with only two GOP senators, Mitt Romney (Utah) and Susan Collins (Maine) joining with Democrats in support of calling witnesses. 


Tuesday will be the first time that Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Trump will have spoken since a disastrous mid-October meeting on Syria in which she walked out following a confrontation with the president.

Pelosi told The New York Times in an interview published Monday that Democrats would treat Trump “as a guest in our House — and we hope he will behave as a guest in our House.”

“But,” Pelosi added, “we never have that expectation.”

 

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