President Trump is nothing more than a celebrity playing dress-up as the leader of the free world, said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries in his annual State of the District Address on Thursday night.
“We have a reality-show host in the White House masquerading as president of the United States of America,” said Jeffries (D–Clinton Hill) to the packed-out crowd at Downtown’s Paramount Theater.
This was despite the congressman’s controversial decision to attend the inauguration on Jan. 20, while many other Brooklyn pols called Trump “illegitimate” and boycotted the event after the commander in chief insulted civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D–Georgia).
The Prospect Heights resident, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, stood by his decision on Thursday, arguing that the ceremony was also the final chance to say goodbye to President Obama.
“I decided this inauguration is bigger than one individual, even though Donald Trump would like us to believe his presence is the be all, end all — it’s not,” he said after the speech.
Trump was, however, the be all and end all of Jeffries’ speech — which focused entirely on firing up constituents to fight back against the policies of the new administration and Republican-controlled Congress on issues such as the Affordable Care Act.
“Barack Obama has left the building, and there’s some folks down in Washington who are going to try and take advantage of the situation,” said Jeffries, who stumped for Hillary Clinton during the presidential primaries and election. “They go to church and they pray on Sunday, and they go to Washington and prey on the American people the rest of the week.”
He also laid into some of their supporters.
“I’m not here to say that every American who voted for Donald Trump is a racist, but I do know that every racist in America voted for Donald Trump,” he said.
The Crown Heights native’s spiel did not mention any local issues or plans for his district, but attendees didn’t seem to mind, cheering throughout the address and heeding the pol’s call to action.
“I thought it was amazing, it definitely gave us more validation of what’s to come and what we need to do,” said East New Yorker Ashley Marrero. “We can do this all together. We’ve been through hard times before it’s just another round and we’ve gotta do what we gotta do.”
Jeffries has criticized Mayor DeBlasio’s policies on police and his name has been tossed around as a possible challenger in this year’s mayoral race. After the speech, he told this paper that he has no plan to run — then apparently told a Politico reporter that he still hasn’t ruled it out.
Around 26 percent of New Yorkers would vote for Jeffries as mayor in a face-off with DeBlasio, according to a recent Quinnipiac University poll.