Clyburn to attend inauguration -- against his wife's wishes

Rep. James Clyburn speaks as President of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence Dan Gross, July 8, 2015 on Capitol Hill.

Story highlights

  • The top ranking House African-American Democrat explained his inauguration plans
  • Jim Clyburn said Jeff Sessions' nomination to be attorney general is "absolutely crap"

Washington (CNN)South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn, the top ranking African-American House Democrat, is attending Friday's inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump -- but he says his wife doesn't want him to go.

Clyburn said his wife told him as he left home for the airport Thursday morning to head to Washington, "I understand you are going, but I want you to know that I don't like it."
"We all have roles to play," Clyburn said, noting that he met Georgia Rep. John Lewis, a fellow civil rights activist who is boycotting the inauguration, in 1960. Roughly 60 House Democrats have said they won't attend the inauguration at the Capitol in part because they agree with Lewis' criticism of Trump. Last week, Lewis said he didn't believe Trump was a "legitimate president."
    "John's role in all of this is a bit different from mine," Clyburn said, noting he serves as part of the Democratic leadership team.
    But Clyburn didn't mince words when it comes to the feelings of African-American members in Congress about their concern about Trump's pick to lead the Justice Department.
    "You cannot possibly look at 49 members of the Congressional Black Caucus and say that I'm going to work with you guys but you've got to swallow Jeff Sessions as the US attorney general," Clyburn said. "That is absolutely crap."
    The South Carolina Democrat was willing to give his colleague, Republican Rep. Mick Mulvaney -- the nominee to lead the budget office for the Trump administration -- the benefit of the doubt about issues surrounding his failure to pay taxes.
    Clyburn noted his own family's experience running a business and managing tax payments. But he noted that then-President Bill Clinton's nominee to run the Department of Health and Human Services was forced to withdraw because of failure to pay taxes for a child care provider.
    "That's something he has to worry about," Clyburn said, noting he is disagrees with Mulvaney on most issues, but plays golf with him and wants to hear more about the situation.
    But Clyburn was more critical of the controversy surrounding stock trades, first reported by CNN, by Georgia Rep. Tom Price, who is the nominee to lead HHS.
    "Insider trading to me is a very, very serious to me -- that's much more serious to me than the oversight of payroll taxes," the third-ranking Democrat said.