65 Democratic Congress Members Planning to Skip Inauguration
ABC NEWS -
Dozens of Democratic members of Congress have announced they will skip Donald Trump's inauguration this Friday. While some of the 65 made their decision in previous weeks, many more have come forward in recent days, citing the president-elect's perceived insult of Rep. John Lewis as the final straw.
Trump lashed out at the civil rights icon Saturday morning after Lewis said in a Friday interview he didn't view Trump as "a legitimate president." Lewis, a Georgia Democrat from an Atlanta-area district who protested alongside the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., also said he would not attend the inauguration.
"Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to mention crime infested) rather than falsely complaining about the election results," Trump tweeted Saturday morning. "All talk, talk, talk - no action or results. Sad!"
Trump's comments have drawn outrage and messages of support for Lewis from both sides of the aisle. Rep. Yvette Clark, D-N.Y., said in a tweet Saturday that she would not attend the inauguration because of the comments, saying, "When you insult @repjohnlewis, you insult America."
Democratic Reps. Mark Takano and Judy Chu, both of California, also tweeted Saturday they would be absent as a show of solidarity with Lewis, making them part of the more than one-quarter of House Democrats who plan to skip the ceremony. (SEE FULL LIST BELOW)
Also, Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., wrote in a statement released Saturday that "while [he does] not dispute that Trump won the Electoral College, [he] cannot normalize his behavior or the disparaging and un-American statements he has made."
"Trump — who lost the popular vote — has made a series of racist, sexist and bigoted statements," Lieu continued. "In addition, he has attacked Gold Star parents, veterans such as John McCain and now civil rights icon John Lewis."
Democratic Rep. Mark Pocan of Wisconsin reflected such sentiments in a statement released Sunday morning.
"I was planning on attending the inauguration on Friday out of respect for the office of president, while still making it back home on Saturday to attend the Women's March in Madison," he said. "However, after long consideration based on reading the classified document on Russian hacking and the Trump candidacy on Thursday, the handling of his conflicts of interest and this weekend's offensive tweets about a national hero Rep. John Lewis, I am no longer attending the event."
Several more representatives announced their absence at the inauguration on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and referred to Lewis.
"President-elect Trump, you have the undeniable right to take issue and disagree with John Lewis' opinion about the legitimacy of the election results," Rep. Anthony Brown, a Democrat from Maryland, wrote on Facebook Monday. "But Mr. Trump, you need to think carefully about disparaging a civil rights icon such as John Lewis, let alone anyone exercising their freedom of expression that many of us fought for."
Reps. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Calif., and John Conyers, D-Mich., did not explicitly mention Lewis in their announcements Saturday but did go public with their decisions on the day of Trump's tweets.
Among those who decided earlier this month not to attend the inauguration, the most common reason was an aversion to normalizing what they see as Trump's divisive rhetoric and agenda.
"When the new president denigrates Latinos or Mexicans or immigrants as drug dealers and criminals, I want to be able to say I did not condone or allow that type of speech to go mainstream. That was not normalized on my watch," Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., said in a speech on the House floor Jan. 10. "Because the future president said the American-born children of immigrants were not capable of being American judges, I cannot sit there at his inauguration as if that is OK and I forgive him."
Rep. Katherine Clark, D-Mass., said on Twitter on Jan. 5 she didn't believe she could "contribute to the normalization of the president-elect's divisive rhetoric by participating in the inauguration."
Trump, however, said in an interview with Fox News that aired this morning: "As far as other people not going, that's okay because we need seats so badly. I hope they give me their tickets. Are they going to give us their tickets? I will give them to other people."
Below is the full running list of Congress members who are planning not to attend the inauguration: