Sen. Dick Durbin said Thursday that while he disagrees with President-elect Donald Trump on many issues, he, unlike many of his colleagues, will still be standing by Trump's side as he is sworn in to serve as the 45th president of the United State Friday.
In a statement explaining his decision, a note titled "Why I Am Attending the Inauguration of Donald Trump," Durbin stated he stood as Ronald Reagan was sworn in for his second term, as George W. Bush was sworn in for his second inauguration and as Barack Obama was sworn in for both his terms.
“My presence is an acknowledgement that once again America has achieved what so many nations have failed to do: peacefully transition to new leadership,” Durbin said in a statement. “Absent clear and convincing evidence that the new president was not legitimately chosen, it is critical to a democracy that those who lose the election acknowledge the choice of the American electorate.”
In his statement, Durbin pointed to Russian efforts to undermine the 2016 presidential election. Earlier this month, U.S. intelligence agencies assessed that the Russian government aspired to aid Trump’s candidacy. Durbin and Democratic members of the Senate judiciary Committee sent a letter Tuesday urging Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, Trump’s nominee for attorney general, to allow Russian hacking investigations to proceed.
Durbin also defended Civil Rights icon and Georgia Rep. John Lewis, who last week questioned the legitimacy of Trump’s election based on Russian hacking allegations. In response, Trump shot back on Twitter, claiming Lewis is "all talk" and "no action." Durbin called Trump's attacks against Lewis "repulsive."
“John Lewis paid in blood on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, for his right to his beliefs on the legitimacy of Donald Trump’s presidency,” Durbin said. “I will honor John Lewis by pledging to fight for the civil rights of Americans every minute of this new administration.”
Additionally, Durbin criticized the “anachronistic” electoral college, which he has pushed to change. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes in November, but lost the electoral college by a wide margin.
Still, Durbin claimed he would attend Friday’s inauguration out of respect for the Constitution and the presidency.
“As President Trump lifts his hand from the Bible, I will then accept my Constitutional responsibility to support him when he is right and oppose him with every fiber of my being when he is wrong,” Durbin said.