Like newly elected Democratic Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, Seattle Congressman Adam Smith won't be attending Donald Trump's inauguration on Friday.
But unlike Jayapal, who cast her decision as a reaction to Trump's policy promises and rhetoric, Smith is presenting his decision is business as usual.
"Believe me, I have a lot of statements against Donald Trump, his policies, and the way he behaves," Smith said in an interview with The Stranger this morning. "What he said in response to [Rep.] John Lewis's comments was remarkably ignorant—even for him. [But] I’m not not going to the inauguration as a statement. I'm not going because I’d prefer to be home."
Because the inauguration is a ceremonial event and Congress takes no votes during the week of the inauguration—and because he's raising two teenagers here—Smith said he'd rather be in Washington State than Washington, D.C. Smith has only attended two inaugurations (1997 and 2009) during his 10 terms in Congress, according to his office
Smith told me he made the decision about this year's event before the high-profile feud between Trump and Lewis, in which Lewis said he does not see Trump as a "legitimate" president." He also questioned the usefulness of boycotting the inauguration, which he said "distracts" from fighting Republican policies.
"I think we make mistake if we focus on his legitimacy as president," Smith said. "The electoral college is sheer insanity, but it is the law of land. To question his legitimacy is a far tougher argument to win than to question the substance of the policies he’s advocating for."
Smith said he believes even a widespread Democratic boycott would not have "any impact at all."
"The inauguration will be over, Trump will be president, and we will have to get to work stopping what he wants to do to this country and the world," Smith said.
What about Washington's other Congressional Democrats? Congresswoman Suzan DelBene's office said she will be attending and then participating in the Women's March on Washington on Saturday. An aide to Democratic Senator Patty Murray said Murray is planning to attend the inauguration, "but she certainly respects everyone’s choice to do as they see fit on Friday and joins in the outrage at President-elect Trump's divisive rhetoric and policy proposals."
No other offices immediately responded to questions from The Stranger, but I'll update this post as I hear back.
UPDATE: A spokesperson for Congressman Derek Kilmer, who represents the 6th Congressional District including Gig Harbor, says Kilmer will attend. Kilmer posted on Facebook yesterday that Lewis "should be honored—not attacked."
UPDATE: Congressman Rick Larsen, from Everett's 2nd Congressional District, plans to attend. His explanation in part: "I believe I have an obligation to protect the Constitution by being present from the beginning to the end of this incoming administration."