Former Black Caucus chair skipping inauguration, cites concern about Trump and Russia

FILE - North Carolina’s U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, a past chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said Tuesday he’s skipping President-elect Donald Trump’s 2017 inauguration.
FILE - North Carolina’s U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, a past chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said Tuesday he’s skipping President-elect Donald Trump’s 2017 inauguration. AP

Two North Carolina Democratic members of Congress – Reps. Alma Adams of Charlotte and G.K. Butterfield of Wilson – said Tuesday they’re skipping President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration.

By doing so, the two representatives join more than 40 of their Democratic congressional colleagues who have criticized Trump and announced they’ll boycott the event. The office of North Carolina’s third Democrat in its congressional delegation – U.S. Rep. David Price of Chapel Hill – told McClatchy on Tuesday afternoon he’s undecided.

Butterfield is the most-recent former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus and has served North Carolina’s 1st Congressional District since 2004.

“I cannot in good conscience participate in this celebratory event,” he said in a statement sent to McClatchy on Tuesday.

His decision comes after Georgia Rep. John Lewis, a civil rights icon, said over the weekend he didn’t think of Trump as a “legitimate” president because of U.S. intelligence community findings about Russia meddling in the election to sway public opinion. Other members of the Congressional Black Caucus, known as the CBC, have also said they’ll skip this year’s presidential inauguration.

The current Congressional Black Caucus chairman, U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., suggested during an MSNBC interview Monday night his plans to attend the inauguration were still not firm. “If I were not the (CBC) chairman, there’s no way I would be there,” Richmond told Rachel Maddow.

“We’d love for every member of Congress to attend but if they don’t, we’ve got some great seats for others to partake in. It’s a shame that these folks don’t want to be part of the peaceful transfer of power,” Trump spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters on a morning call, the Associated Press reported.

Like Lewis, Butterfield on Tuesday cited concerns about Trump and Russia.

“I have grave concerns about the Russian hacking of our election process and the role, if any, Donald Trump played in this unlawful activity,” Butterfield said.

“Donald Trump’s brand of division and insult, coupled with his lack of knowledge of the magnitude of the office he is about to enter, leads me to the conclusion that President-Elect Donald Trump is not prepared for the position of president and Commander-in-Chief.”

Butterfield called on Trump to “transform his behavior of insult and division, surround himself with knowledgeable thought leaders, and move our country in a positive direction.”

Adams, in a statement Tuesday, said Trump hasn’t made good on his promise to “bridge the divide” among Americans.

“For many, the election of Donald Trump has sparked very real fears and concerns,” she said. “In November, the president-elect promised to bridge the divide to help us find common ground. Unfortunately, that promise has not been honored. Instead, President-elect Trump has validated our fears with his cabinet picks, tweets and attacks.”

Adams said she respects the process of a peaceful transition of power but cannot “pretend to celebrate the inauguration of someone who has spoken so horribly about women, minorities and the disabled.”

For Price, Trump’s swearing-in ceremony would be the first one he’s missed since being elected to Congress from Chapel Hill in 1986. In a statement to McClatchy, Price’s spokesperson said the congressman wants to affirm democratic norms and “the rule of law.”

“But, he shares the sense of many of his Democratic colleagues that Donald Trump presents an unprecedented affront to our democratic norms and the dignity of the office of the president,” said spokesperson Lawrence Kluttz in an email.

Price is continuing conversations with his family, colleagues and constituents about how he should publicly express his concerns about Trump and whether he’ll attend inauguration, Kluttz said.

In particular, Kluttz said Price was “appalled by Mr. Trump's attacks on John Lewis, a universally admired champion of our nation's promise.”

Anna Douglas: 202-383-6012, @ADouglasNews