WASHINGTON — As the number of congressional Democrats planning to boycott the inauguration in the wake of President-elect Trump’s row with Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), one New York lawmaker said he’s considering going to “be in his face.”
The number of boycotters grew over the weekend from a handful to more than three dozen, with many citing Trump’s reaction to Lewis’ decision not to attend in their own decisions.
“I believe in forgiveness. I believe in trying to work with people. It will be hard. It’s going to be very difficult. I don’t see this president-elect as a legitimate president,” Lewis said in the interview aired in full Sunday on Meet the Press. “I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected and they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton. I don’t plan to attend the inauguration. It will be the first one that I’ll miss since I’ve been at Congress. You cannot be at home with something that you feel that it’s wrong.”
Beginning Saturday, Trump tweeted, “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. All talk, talk, talk – no action or results. Sad!”
Trump later tweeted: “Congressman John Lewis should finally focus on the burning and crime infested inner-cities of the U.S. I can use all the help I can get!”
Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.) tweeted a photo of Lewis marching with Martin Luther King Jr., adding, “I stand with @repjohnlewis and I will not be attending the inauguration.”
“For me, the personal decision not to attend Inauguration is quite simple: Do I stand with Donald Trump, or do I stand with John Lewis?” Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) said in a statement. “I am standing with John Lewis.”
Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) told CNN that his decision to ditch the inaugural was multifaceted, but the “last straw” was Trump’s “ad hominem personal attacks on an icon of the civil rights movement, someone who suffered beatings and almost gave his life for this country.”
But Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.) argued on CNN this morning that Democrats could send a message to Trump by attending the swearing-in.
“If I go it’s not to celebrate…and I want to make sure that if I go that I am in the face of this president and know he can not get around me and other members of Congress,” said Meeks, who is undecided about attending. “I see others he is talking to, and they are not members of Congress that deal with policy issues, and I want to deal with the policy issues and challenge him and go back and forth, something that did not take place during the debates.”
Meeks said he can recognize the peaceful transfer of power in the country while “making sure that I would be at no celebratory event.”
“I don’t want to be there, and it’s good we are having the peaceful transfer of power, but I would not hang out in a celebration with an individual who says it’s OK to grab women by their private parts or calling individuals who happen to be of Mexican descent rapist and criminals and started the birther movement against the president of the United States,” the congressman said.
“That tells me who he is as a person, and so I don’t like him as a person. But I do have to deal with him because the Electoral College has determined he will be the 45th president of the United States, and that’s why I am considering going — and I want to be in his face with a legitimate agenda for the people I represent and for all Americans.”
Meeks said Lewis was entitled to opine that Trump is not a legitimate president “because he has really put his life on the line for this country — Donald Trump has never done anything for anybody other than Donald Trump.”
“It seems to me if he was — the president-elect wanted to do the right thing instead of coming back at John Lewis, he would have said to John Lewis, I would love to sit down and talk to you, John Lewis, on how we could make this country moving forward and how we can work together on policy that would benefit this country and let’s have a dialogue in regards to that as opposed to what he has been doing with everybody, just calling people names,” he added.
The Presidential Inauguration Committee said today that Trump will be taking the oath of office on a Bible given to him as a child and on the Bible that President Lincoln used as his first inauguration.
“In his first inaugural address, President Lincoln appealed to the ‘better angels of our nature,’” committee chairman Tom Barrack said. “As he takes the same oath of office 156 years later, President-elect Trump is humbled to place his hand on Bibles that hold special meaning both to his family and to our country.”
The committee said there are 8,000 ticketed attendees expected along the parade route from the Capitol to the White House, and “warmly invited” people to occupy thousands of non-ticketed spots in a statement Monday. The Weather Channel is predicting a 90 percent chain of rain in D.C. on Friday.