Rep. Rashida Tlaib said she walked out of President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address Tuesday night because she was “triggered” by his remarks.
Tlaib, a Michigan Democrat, said in a tweet that Trump’s speech was “beneath the dignity of the dignity of the office he occupies.”
I walked out of that speech. The lies, the bigotry, and the shameless bragging about taking away food stamps that people depend on to live—it was all beneath the dignity of the office he occupies. Shame on this forever impeached president.
— Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) February 5, 2020
Later, in an interview on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show,” Tlaib explained that the “tipping point” for her was when Trump mentioned Supreme Court Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch as examples of his administration’s success in confirming federal judges.
“I think, you know, even the mention of Brett Kavanaugh for me is a trigger, just as a woman in America,” she said. “The fact that he, you know, rightfully was accused and having an incredibly strong woman come before the public and the world and tell her story of sexual assault by this person that was appointed to the Supreme Court is just alone, that — I couldn’t stand still and not do anything about it, and I needed to walk away from that.”
Tlaib and Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Minnesota Democrat, were the only two members of the “squad” of progressive first-term congresswomen to attend Trump’s State of the Union address. The other two, Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, had publicly declared, along with at least six other Democrats, that they would boycott.
Twitter reacts to Rashida Tlaib storming out of the SOTU
Thousands of liberals cheered Tlaib on Twitter for taking a stand against Trump, but conservatives responded with condemnation.
Right-wing pundit Mark Dice said, “Nobody wanted you there anyway, lady!”
Podcast host Mark Young predicted Tlaib would not be around to walk out of next year’s speech.
“Good news is @RashidaTlaib it will be your last SOTU you will ever walk of,” he said. “You will be a one term wonder. I will work to make that happen.”
Tlaib drew attention, and backlash, even before the joint session of Congress convened. She announced on Twitter shortly before the event that she would be wearing a traditional Palestinian outfit as her own form of protest. Omar, who joined Tlaib as the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, added that she would be similarly clad in customary garb from her native Somalia.
"There is no right or wrong way to protest." —@ayannapressley
— Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) February 4, 2020
During Trump’s speech, Tlaib and Omar did not stand as the president honored a 100-year-old World War II veteran Charles McGee, one of the last living members of the Tuskegee Airmen.
Charlie Kirk, founder of the conservative nonprofit Turning Point USA, was one of a number conservatives to slam the congresswomen for their behavior. He called it “the sickest thing to happen all night” and said, “These women should be ashamed of themselves.”
The sickest thing to happen all night:
Rashida Tlaib & Ilhan Omar refused to stand and clap for a 100 year old Tuskegee Airman, Charles McGee, a true American hero
I don’t care how much you hate the president
These women should be ashamed of themselves
— Charlie Kirk (@charliekirk11) February 5, 2020
The Tuskegee Airmen were a group of black pilots who were trained in segregated units and fought in World War II. Lionized in several dramatic films, their name is derived from the fact that they were recruited from Tuskegee University in Alabama.
Trump drew bipartisan applause for his comments about bringing American troops home from Afghanistan, a moment that also included the reuniting of an Army sergeant with is surprised wife and two young children in the House chamber.
The president avoided the subject of his impeachment in an 80-minute speech. But the received standing ovations from his fellow Republicans during other more partisan moments while rival Democrats for the most part remained seated.
Before the address was over, Omar joined Tlaib outside for a selfie, which the Minnesotan posted to Twitter.
“This is what America looks like,” she said.
This is what America looks like ✌? pic.twitter.com/4NCDdxJsql
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) February 5, 2020
Many conservatives disagreed.
Nancy Pelosi rips up Trump’s speech
When Trump finished his address, Pelosi stood and tore up her copy of the remarks, later telling reporters it was “the courteous thing to do, considering the alternative.”
Tlaib, by then long gone from the House floor, tweeted that she “would have shredded it.”
I would have shredded it. #justsaying
— Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) February 5, 2020
The Republican-led Senate was expected to vote to acquit Trump in a vote beginning at 4 p.m. EST on Wednesday.