Trump inauguration boycott grows to 19 Democrat lawmakers

January 16, 2017
In The News

A growing number of Democrat lawmakers are boycotting Donald Trump's inauguration this week, after a feud broke out between the President-elect and civil rights campaigner-turned-Representative John Lewis, who said he will not be a 'legitimate' President.

There are now 19 Democratic Representatives, including Lewis, saying they will spurn Trump's swearing-in in favor of focusing on their constituents or even taking part in protests and 'resistance' movements.

They include four members of Congress who said they would not attend after Trump hit back at Lewis on Twitter Saturday, saying the lawmaker - who once campaigned alongside Martin Luther King Jr - was 'all talk, no action'.

Trump's criticism came after Lewis's Friday promise not to attend the inauguration. 

'I don't see this President-elect as a legitimate president,' Lewis, who has represented Georgia's 5th congressional district since 1987, told NBC News. 

'I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected. And they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton.'

He added: 'You cannot be at home with something that you feel that is wrong.'

Trump's furious retorts to Lewis - which also derided Lewis's district as being 'in horrible shape and falling apart' and talked of 'burning and crime infested inner-cities of the US' - led to other Democrats refusing to play ball.

New York Representative Yvette Clarke Tweeted Saturday: 'I will NOT attend the inauguration of @realDonaldTrump. When you insult @repjohnlewis, you insult America.'

Clarke's fellow New Yorker, Jerrold Nadler, tweeted: '@realDonaldTrump stands with V. Putin. I stand with @repjohnlewis.' 

He was confirmed not to be attending by Politico

She was joined by three California Representatives - Ted Lieu, Mark Takano and Judy Chu - who had similar objections. 

Lieu's office released a statement in which he said: 'While I do not dispute that Trump won the Electoral College, I cannot normalize his behavior or the disparaging and un-American statements he has made.'

He complained about Trump's 'racist, sexist and bigoted statements' and concluded: '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? I am standing with John Lewis.'

New York Congressman Jose E Serrano, who represents the Bronx, said he 'cannot celebrate the inauguration of a man who has no regard for my constituents'"/> New York Congressman Jose E Serrano, who represents the Bronx, said he 'cannot celebrate the inauguration of a man who has no regard for my constituents'

Meanwhile, Takano tweeted: '"All talk, no action." I stand with @repjohnlewis and I will not be attending the inauguration.' 

And Chu wrote: 'After much thought, I have decided to #StandWithJohnLewis and not attend the inauguration.'

Mark DeSaulnier tweeted Friday, before Trump's Tweet: 'It is with a heavy heart and deep personal conviction that I have decided not to attend the #TrumpInauguration on January 20, 2017.'

But on Saturday he cast 'shame' on Trump for 'kicking off #MLKWeekend by criticizing one of our most treasured civil rights leaders' and thanked Lewis for his 'service, activism & personal sacrifice for our country'.

Not everyone is spurning the inauguration because of Lewis, however.

Arizona Representative spoke on the house floor Friday, the day before Trump's controversial tweet, saying that he was 'not motivated by disrespect for the office or motivated by disrespect for the government that we have in this great democracy'.

However, he said, he wanted to make 'an individual act... of defiance at the disrespect shown to millions and millions of Americans by this incoming administration, and the actions we are taking in this Congress.'

Three more California Representatives, Jared Huffman and Barbara Lee, also threw their lot in with the 'nay' camp.

Huffman said he would rather make 'a positive difference' with his constituents, suggesting he might 'pitch in' building homes or cleaning up flood debris rather than go to DC.

Lee was more strident in her views, saying in a statement that Trump normalized 'the most extreme fringes of the Republican Party.

'On Inauguration Day, I will not be celebrating. I will be organizing and preparing for resistance.'

Friction about the Trump Presidency wasn't restricted to the coasts, however - the Midwest got in on the action too. 

Illinois Rep Luis Gutierrez told CNN's New Day he would not attend the swearing-in of a man who would 'turn back the clock on women and turn back the clock on immigrants and the safety and freedom that we fought for them.'

The office of Michigan Representative John Conyers told CNN that he would not attend the inauguration, although no reason was specified.

And on Friday Missouri Representative William Lacy Clay's office told the St Louis Post-Dispatch that he would be 'back home in St Louis speaking to school kids' rather than attending the DC inauguration.

Clay had previously said that he would work with Trump if his policies 'are in the best interest of my constituents in St Louis, and working families across this country.' Otherwise, he said, he would 'vigorously oppose him'.

NY Rep Adriano Espaillat said his refusal to attend was 'an individual act... of defiance at the disrespect shown to millions and millions of Americans by this incoming administration'"/> NY Rep Adriano Espaillat said his refusal to attend was 'an individual act... of defiance at the disrespect shown to millions and millions of Americans by this incoming administration'

Massachusetts Rep Katherine Clark told The Boston Globe on January 5: 'I support the peaceful transition of power, but I don't feel that I need to attend the pageantry associated with and for this President.'

She was the only one of the Massachusetts congressional delegation who would not attend, the paper said.

Three more New York representatives also swore off the inauguration: Adriano Espaillat, Jose Serrano and Nydia Velazquez.

Espaillat said on Facebook that Trump and his appointees were trying to take the country 'back in time' and said 'the hate-filled rhetoric that plagued his election simply will continue in his administration.' 

'THIS is not Dr King's Dream!' he added.

Serrano was more terse, tweeting: 'I will not attend the #inauguration2017 next week- cannot celebrate the inauguration of a man who has no regard for my constituents. #Bronx.'

And Velazquez tweeted that while she wouldn't be present at Trump's swearing-in, 'I... WILL participate in the @womensmarch on January 21st.'

That march will take place in DC the day after the inauguration, and according to its website, is set up in response to 'the rhetoric of the past election cycle' which has 'insulted, demonized, and threatened many of us'.

And in Oregon, Representatives Earl Blumenauer and Kurt Schrader both swore off DC on January 20.

Blumenauer said on Facebook that 'there is unprecedented concern by my constituents about the many threats posed by the Trump administration' including 'health, environment, nuclear weapons and immigration [policies]'.

So, he said, he would 'forgo the inauguration' and instead speak to his constituents to 'prepare for the coming assault on the values and programs we hold dear.'

His fellow Oregonean, Shrader, was less poetic.

'I'm just not a big Trump fan. I've met the guy and never been impressed with him, he said to Oregon Public Broadcasting Thursday.

'I'll do my best to work with him when I think he's doing the right thing for the country. But he hasn't proved himself to me at all yet, so I respectfully decline to freeze my a** out there in the cold for this particular ceremony,' he said.

It's not just lawmakers that are giving Trump the cold shoulder - other Democrats have their own plans for the 20th.

According to Politico, Clinton backer David Brock is gathering more than 200 of the left's biggest donors during the inauguration to figure out what the Democrats did wrong last year, and to plot Trump's downfall in years to come.

'What better way to spend inaugural weekend than talking about how to kick Donald Trump’s a**?' he said.

Donna Brazile, interim chair of the DNC, will also be ditching DC in favor of a conference in Paris, Politico said. 

And a young Democratic operative from the Clinton campaign told the site that those who leave the city are refusing to rent out their homes on AirBNB, as they're worried about having Trump supporters in their home.

However, the Democratic exodus isn't absolute.

Most Democratic lawmakers will still attend to observe the peaceful transition of power. 

Hillary Clinton will be among those in attendance.