Maine Rep. Chellie Pingree said Monday that she will not attend President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration, joining a growing number of Democratic members of Congress opting to skip the ceremonies.

“I’ll be staying right here in Maine,” Pingree, D-1st District, told attendees at a Martin Luther King Jr. celebration dinner hosted by the NAACP Portland Branch at Holiday Inn by the Bay.

The Maine delegation’s most liberal member, Pingree has been sharply critical of Trump’s political rhetoric, policy statements and Cabinet nominees. On Monday, she joined more than 30 other House Democrats who have announced plans to boycott the inaugural ceremonies.

Like many of her colleagues, Pingree cited Trump’s recent clash with Rep. John Lewis – a Georgia Democrat and civil rights icon – as part of her reasoning for opting out of the inauguration.

In a searing statement against Trump released Monday night, Pingree said she would normally attend an inauguration but that “these are not normal circumstances.” She then accused Trump of putting his business interests ahead of the country’s interests, of belittling Lewis and of showing no appetite for holding Russia accountable for alleged attempts to influence the election.

“President-elect Trump’s actions go beyond any kind of reasonable debate – they threaten the constitutional values our country is based on,” Pingree said in the statement. “I won’t dignify or normalize those threats by standing by at his ceremony. Instead, I think I can better serve my district by performing acts of service here in Maine that day.”


The three other members of Maine’s congressional delegation – Republicans Sen. Susan Collins and Rep. Bruce Poliquin and independent Sen. Angus King – indicated Monday that they will attend Trump’s inauguration Friday. None of the three publicly supported Trump during the election, although most members of Congress traditionally attend the inauguration regardless of their support for the president-elect.

Maine Gov. Paul LePage, a Republican who supported Trump, also plans to travel to Washington, D.C., for the inauguration.

Trump has struggled to attract A-list celebrities or organizations to participate in his inauguration, and the most recent controversies have given Democrats more opportunities to hammer the president-elect.

Lewis is regarded by many as a civil rights hero, having marched with Martin Luther King Jr. during the struggle against segregation and discrimination in the South during the 1960s. He was severely beaten by police – still bearing the scars – and jailed, and has been a prominent voice for black Americans in Congress for several decades.

Lewis had questioned the legitimacy of Trump’s presidency because of intelligence reports that Russia tried to interfere with the election. In response, Trump tweeted that Lewis was “All talk, talk, talk – no action or results” and suggested the Georgia Democrat should focus his attention on fixing his district’s economic situation and crime.

Those comments unleashed a wave of criticism from Democrats and civil rights leaders.


“Donald Trump has proven that his administration will normalize the most extreme fringes of the Republican Party,” Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., said in a statement announcing her boycott of the inauguration. “On Inauguration Day, I will not be celebrating. I will be organizing and preparing for resistance.”

“The rhetoric + actions of @realDonaldTrump have been so far beyond the pale. I cannot in good conscience participate in this inauguration,” tweeted Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y.

Pingree called Lewis a friend and one of the kindest men in Congress. She also credited Lewis with demonstrating how to “get in the way” and create “necessary trouble” to bring about critical change.

The Maine Democrat, who was elected to her fifth term last November, said she plans to attend the Women’s March on Washington on Saturday “before returning to Congress to serve the interests of my constituents during the presidency of Donald Trump.”

Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard contributed to this report.


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