Trump is expected to attend the celebation marking the 400th anniversary of representative government in America, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported last week.
The newspaper reported that “an individual familiar with the planning of the event” said Trump is scheduled to speak at the ceremony at the Jamestown Settlement on the morning of July 30.
That’s the 400th anniversary of the day in 1619 when the Virginia General Assembly met for the first time.
Organizers for the “American Evolution” — part of the state’s Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation — did not immediately confirm Trump’s expected attendance at the event.
A statement organizers send to the media on Saturday said Trump and U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were jointly invited to the event last year by Gov. Ralph Northam; Virginia House Speaker Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights; and State Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment Jr., R-James City.
“Speaker Pelosi’s office declined the invitation within the last two weeks,” the statement said. “The White House has made no announcement regarding the President’s plans.”
The White House press office could not be reached on Saturday to independently confirm that the president would be coming.
But Virginia House and Senate Democratic leaders released a joint statement on Friday saying they would not be attending “any part of the event where Donald Trump is in attendance.”
“The current President does not represent the values that we would celebrate at the 400th anniversary of the oldest democratic body in the western world,” said the statement from House Minority Leader Eileen Filler-Corn, D-Fairfax; Senate Minority Leader Dick Saslaw, D-Fairfax; House Caucus Chairwoman Charniele Herring, D-Alexandria; and Senate Democrat Caucus Chair Mamie Locke, D-Hampton.
“We offer just three words of advice to the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation: ‘Send Him Back,’ ” the statement added.
That was in reference to a raucous rally in North Carolina on Wednesday in which the crowd chanted “Send Her Back!” after Trump began speaking about U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, D- Minn., who came to the United States from Somalia as a refugee in 1992.
Those chants followed a multi-day firestorm that began with Trump’s controversial statements on Twitter last Sunday in which he wrote that “certain Progressive Democratic Congresswomen” should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”
“Then come back and show us how it is done,” he wrote. “These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough.”
Trump was said to be referring not only to Omar, but also to three U.S.-born lawmakers: U.S. Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.
In reaction to the Democrat leadership’s announced boycott of the 400th anniversary event, Parker Slaybaugh, the communications director for Republican Speaker Cox, emphasized that Northam was among those who invited Trump to come.
Northam, Cox and Norment wrote in their joint August 2018 invitation letter that it was their “honor and privilege” to invite the president to the event.
“You do realize your own Democrat Governor was the one who invited President Trump correct?” Slaybaugh wrote on Twitter. “Are you going to continue politicizing what should be a national celebration? … So are @VAHouseDems back to not standing with (Northam)? Hard to keep up these days.”
Norment issued a statement Saturday calling the planned boycott “disappointing and embarrassing,” saying lawmakers were making “partisan concerns paramount in their decisions.”
“Sharing the views of the leader holding an elected office is not a prerequisite for showing respect for the office,” Norment said, asking the Democrats to reconsider.
“It is ironic that thousands of immigrants travel hundreds of miles, risking life and liberty, to come to America, but Virginia Democrats refuse to travel to Jamestown, the site of this nation’s birth,” he said. The president’s participation, Norment said, “is an honor for Virginia,” just as it was when President Teddy Roosevelt and George W. Bush attended similar events there in 1907 and 2007.
Norment said calls by Democratic caucuses earlier this year for Northam and Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax to resign amid controversies has not deterred Democratic leaders from staying away from other sessions and a news conference with them.
The July 30th event will include ceremonies, tours and an evening concert by the Richmond Symphony at Historic Jamestowne, according to the organization’s website, americanevolution2019.com.
Leading up to that, there will also be tours and special events throughout the region on July 27-28, including interpretive programs and military exercises at the Jamestown Settlement. Among other events, Fort Monroe will host a commemoration on Aug. 23-25 marking the 400th Anniversary of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans to English North America.
“2019 marks the 400th anniversary of events in Virginia which continue to define America,” the website said. “These events have shaped the democratic process, cultural diversity, historical traditions, and the entrepreneurial spirit of the United States.”
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