Biden inauguration: From Cawthorn to Cruz, Republicans who voted to block 2020 election results are attending his swearing-in

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Griffin Connolly
·5 min read
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Congressman Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina will attend Joe Biden’s inauguration after spending weeks questioning his legitimacy as president-elect. (Getty Images)
Congressman Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina will attend Joe Biden’s inauguration after spending weeks questioning his legitimacy as president-elect. (Getty Images)

From fiery House freshmen such as North Carolina Congressman Madison Cawthorn to longtime Senate demagogues like Ted Cruz of Texas, Republicans who voted against certifying Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory are nonetheless attending his inauguration ceremony later this week.

Mississippi Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith’s office confirmed her planned attendance in a statement to The Independent on Monday, making her the fifth of the eight GOP senators who voted against one or both of the Electoral College submissions from Arizona and Pennsylvania but will be in Washington to see Mr Biden sworn in as the 46th president.

Other outlets have previously reported that Mr Cruz as well as Senators Rick Scott of Florida, Roger Marshall of Kansas, and Tommy Tuberville of Alabama will also attend.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Minority Whip Steve Scalise, who both voted against Mr Biden’s certification, will nevertheless take part in the inauguration proceedings as well.

Many Republicans’ decision to acknowledge Mr Biden’s victory and attend his inaugural ceremonies marks a swift reversal from the full-throated positions they staked against the legitimacy of his presidency just weeks ago.

Here’s what Mr Cawthorn said at an event for young Republicans in West Palm Beach, Florida, less than a month ago: “When you look at what's happened in a lot of these liberal swing states that have liberal governors and liberal secretaries of state, you can see that they have broken the law and gone against our Constitution with this election.”

Watch: Texas Democrats call on 22 Texas Republicans to resign; State GOP rejects it

Later at that same rally, the 25-year-old congressman received rapturous applause as he announced his opposition to certifying the 2020 election results.

With Mr Biden now certified and ready to take office — and in the wake of the deadly insurrection at the Capitol on 6 January — Mr Cawthorn’s tone has shifted.

“Regardless of which party holds the presidency, respect for the office is not optional,” the congressman told The Independent in a statement on Monday, explaining his decision to attend Mr Biden’s inauguration.

Seventeen other offices of high-profile GOP objectors to Mr Biden’s victory did not respond to a request for comment, including those of Colorado Congresswoman Lauren Boebert, Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz, and Alabama Congressman Mo Brooks, the architect of the House election objections.

Peaceful transition?

Florida Senator Rick Scott, another objector to Mr Biden’s electoral victory has said it’s important for him to be there to send a message of unity to the rest of the free world.

“I plan to attend and believe it is an important tradition that demonstrates the peaceful transfer of power to our people and to the world,” Mr Scott said last week.

Several Democratic and even Republican lawmakers have pointed out that the transition has not been peaceful. Donald Trump was impeached by a bipartisan vote last week for inciting the mob that stormed the Capitol on 6 January as Congress was voting to certify his election loss.

In 76 pages of documentary evidence to support their case, House Democrats have framed the president’s actions leading up to and on 6 January as a ham-handed attempt at a coup.

That evidentiary report from the Democratic House Judiciary Committee staff concludes that Mr Trump “committed a high Crime and Misdemeanor against the Nation by inciting an insurrection at the Capitol in an attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 Presidential Election.”

Many members will not attend the Wednesday’s inauguration, citing Covid and other safety protocols.

They include Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, whose presence in the House GOP conference has been an ongoing controversy ever since it was discovered she was an active follower of the QAnon conspiracy movement.

Ms Greene will not be in Washington on Wednesday “primarily due to security concerns,” her office told Newsweek.

Watch: Field of flags for those absent at inauguration

A checkered history of congressional attendance

Attendance at presidential inaugurations, while customary for members of Congress, is by no means mandatory. Throughout the years, lawmakers have missed them for a variety of reasons.

Republican Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina, for instance, is missing Mr Biden’s swearing-in because he is at home recovering from a recent foot surgery.

Nearly 70 Democratic lawmakers boycotted Mr Trump’s inauguration in January 2017, many of whom hold prominent leadership positions in Congress.

House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler of New York skipped Mr Trump’s swearing-in on the grounds that his behaviour and rhetoric during the 2016 campaign had been “beyond the pale.”

Other high-profile Democrats who snubbed Mr Trump on Inauguration Day in 2017 were House Administration Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren of California; Financial Services Chairwoman Maxine Waters of California; the late Congressman John Lewis of Georgia, a civil rights icon; Congressional Progressive Caucus Chairwoman Pramila Jayapal of Washington; and incoming Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge, who at the time was a congresswoman from Ohio’s 11th District.

Congressmen Jamie Raskin of Maryland and Ted Lieu of California, who co-authored the recently ratified article of impeachment against Mr Trump for inciting an insurrection at the Capitol on 6 January, also stayed home for Mr Trump’s inauguration.

“I cannot risk my presence at his inauguration being interpreted as any kind of endorsement of the normality of our situation. I will not attend the inauguration,” Mr Raskin, who will be the lead impeachment manager at Mr Trump’s impending trial in the Senate, told the Washington Post at the time.

Ms Lofgren was more blunt about the reason for her absence that year: “I acknowledge the fact that [Trump] is the incoming president, but I’m not in the mood to celebrate that fact,” she had told the LA Times.

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