Trump's John Lewis comments drive more Democrats away from inauguration

January 15, 2017
In The News

After Donald Trump’s attacks against civil rights legend Rep. John Lewis, more legislators are rushing to boycott the president-elect’s upcoming inauguration, citing his feud with the Georgia Democrat as the last straw in their decision.

Several announced their plans on social media, including Wisconsin Rep. Mark Pocan, who gave a scathing critique of Mr. Trump as an “immature, undignified reality star with questionable friends and a Twitter addiction.”

After reading classified Russian hacking doc & @realDonaldTrump offensive tweets to @repjohnlewis I will not be attending the Inauguration.

— Rep. Mark Pocan (@repmarkpocan) January 15, 2017

Rep. Yvette Clarke of New York tagged her post “#boycotttrump” when announcing that she intended to join the ranks of Reps. Mark Takano, Ted Lieu, and Jerry Nadler in skipping the inauguration.

I will NOT attend the inauguration of @realDonaldTrump. When you insult @repjohnlewis, you insult America.

— Yvette D. Clarke (@RepYvetteClarke) January 14, 2017

Some who had already decided not to attend the Jan. 20 ceremony dug in their heels further, like California Rep. Maxine Waters.

“I wouldn’t waste my time” with the inauguration, Waters tweeted Sunday.

I never ever contemplated attending the inauguration or any activities associated w/ @realDonaldTrump. I wouldn't waste my time.

— Maxine Waters (@MaxineWaters) January 15, 2017

Nearly two dozen legislators have said they were going to boycott the event, with CNN reporting that 22 will be no-shows at the inauguration.  

Mr. Trump had targeted Lewis early Saturday morning, following comments the Georgia Democrat made questioning the legitimacy of the president-elect. He blasted Lewis, who spent his youth organizing protests against racial discrimination in the Jim Crow-era South, as “all talk, talk, talk - no action or results” and called the legislator’s district “crime infested” and “in horrible shape.”

After widespread backlash, the president-elect seemed to tone down his rhetoric on Lewis later that evening, saying in a separate tweet that “I can use all the help I can get” in improving the country’s inner cities.

Inauguration Day is turning out to be even bigger than expected. January 20th, Washington D.C. Have fun!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 15, 2017

On Sunday, Mr. Trump seemed to comment on the divisions leading up to his inauguration:

For many years our country has been divided, angry and untrusting. Many say it will never change, the hatred is too deep. IT WILL CHANGE!!!!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 15, 2017

The tweets have generated large-scale responses on the social media platform, according to Twitter. Twitter spokesperson Nick Pacilio noted to CBS News that 1.5 million tweets mentioning the congressman have surfaced in the last 48 hours alone, with Lewis’ account generating more than 60,000 new followers. 

The remarks from Mr. Trump come just as the nation readies to celebrate the civil rights legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Monday.

The president-elect is expected to spend the holiday in Washington, D.C.