WASHINGTON — Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley will boycott the State of the Union address Tuesday night, condemning President Donald Trump and saying they can’t “legitimize” his obstruction of Congress, particularly during an impeachment trial.
Ocasio-Cortez and Pressley, two high-profile first-term representatives and members of “the Squad,” announced Tuesday afternoon that they will not attend the speech. Fellow Squad member Rep. Ilhan Omar will attend, according to a Democratic aide familiar with her schedule, as will Rep. Rashida Tlaib. The four Democrats, all women of color, have been on the receiving end of Trump’s ire since coming to Congress last year.
“After much deliberation, I have decided that I will not use my presence at a state ceremony to normalize Trump’s lawless conduct & subversion of the Constitution,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted late Tuesday afternoon. “None of this is normal, and I will not legitimize it. Consequently, I will not be attending the State of the Union.”
Pressley made her announcement minutes before Ocasio-Cortez, saying she could not attend a State of the Union with a president who “demonstrates contempt for the American people, contempt for Congress & contempt for our Constitution.”
“The State of the Union is hurting because of the occupant of the White House. … I cannot in good conscience attend tonight's sham,” Pressley tweeted.
Though she is not attending the speech in person, Pressley will deliver the Working Families Party's response to the State of the Union, which will run after the president’s speech. Rep. Veronica Escobar, who is also not attending the speech in Washington, will deliver the Spanish-language response to the State of the Union from her home district in El Paso, Texas.
And while Tlaib said she is attending the speech, she made the announcement with a scathing condemnation of the president: “I will be in attendance at tonight’s State of the Union address, but not for Donald Trump. Every action that President Trump takes will be under the cloud of impeachment. Donald Trump continues to break promises he’s made to the American people and instead pushes policies that harm people across the country."
Trump’s speech at 9 p.m. tonight comes just a day before the Senate will vote on whether to remove him from office over two articles of impeachment: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Republicans are expected to acquit him around 4 p.m. Wednesday.
The president has singled out the Squad members at campaign rallies and in tweets. As recently as last month, he accused them of being anti-Semitic during a rally with his evangelical supporters.
The House voted to censure the president after he fired off a series of racist tweets attacking the four lawmakers. Four Republican members of Congress voted in favor of the bipartisan resolution, which said the House “strongly condemns the President Trump’s racist legitimized and increased fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color by saying that our fellow Americans who are immigrants, and those who may look to the President like immigrants, should ‘go back’ to other countries.” The Squad held their own press conference in response to Trump’s tweets, saying, “This is the agenda of white nationalist[s].”
The group hasn’t hesitated to call the president out. The day she was sworn in to Congress, Tlaib said made news for saying Democrats would “impeach the motherfucker!”
Republicans have played the soundbite repeatedly ever since, and Trump’s attorneys used it during closing arguments in his impeachment trial this week to argue his impeachment is invalid because it’s largely partisan.