Wednesday 26 July 2017

Number of Democrats boycotting Donald Trump's inauguration continues to grow

Donald Trump's spokesman shrugged off the protest by Democrats and indicated they would give away the seats (AP/Seth Wenig)
Donald Trump's spokesman shrugged off the protest by Democrats and indicated they would give away the seats (AP/Seth Wenig)

The number of House Democrats planning to boycott President-elect Donald Trump's inauguration has grown to more than 40 in protest over his policies and his repeated criticism of civil rights activist John Lewis.

The Georgia congressman made headlines over the weekend for challenging Mr Trump's legitimacy to be the next president and erroneously claiming that Mr Trump's inauguration would be the first he will have missed since coming to Congress three decades ago.

In fact, Mr Lewis had missed George W Bush's inauguration in 2001.

Mr Trump struck on Tuesday morning, as is typical, on Twitter: "WRONG (or lie)!" Trump tweeted, citing a 2001 Washington Post report that noted Mr Lewis had skipped George W Bush's inauguration.

Mr Lewis' office confirmed that the congressman had missed Mr Bush's swearing-in.

"His absence at that time was also a form of dissent," said spokeswoman Brenda Jones. "He did not believe the outcome of that election, including the controversies around the results in Florida and the unprecedented intervention of the US Supreme Court, reflected a free, fair and open democratic process."

Mr Lewis said last week that he would skip Mr Trump's swearing in on Friday, telling NBC News that he did not view Mr Trump as a legitimate president.

"I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected. And they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton," Mr Lewis said in an interview.

His comments drew angry tweets from Mr Trump at the weekend, who wrote that "rather than falsely complaining about the election results", Mr Lewis should focus on his congressional district.

The number of Democrats boycotting Mr Trump's inauguration continued to increase, including Minnesota's Keith Ellison, a top contender to lead the Democratic National Committee, as well as many black and Hispanic politicians.

Top Democrats such as House minority leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, of New York, will attend, however, and none of the Senate Democrats said they will skip the inauguration.

Mr Trump's spokesman, Sean Spicer, shrugged off the protest and indicated they would give away the seats.

"We'd love for every member of Congress to attend but if they don't, we've got some great seats for others to partake in. It's a shame that these folks don't want to be part of the peaceful transfer of power," Mr Spicer said.

On Tuesday, Democrats such as Alma Adams of North Carolina, Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania and Carol Shea-Porter of New Hampshire joined the growing ranks boycotting the inauguration.

"I cannot in good faith and consciousness pretend to celebrate the inauguration of someone who has spoken so horribly about women, minorities and the disabled," Mrs Adams said.

Mr Trump and other Republicans have dismissed the boycott and complaints, saying Democrats are sore losers who need to accept the results of the election and move on. Democrats control 194 House seats.

While many Democrats were furious with the outcome of the drawn-out 2000 election in which George W Bush defeated Al Gore after recounts and a Supreme Court ruling, they generally attended Mr Bush's inauguration.

Meanwhile, Mr Trump is making his first Washington trip in weeks later, as his inauguration festivities approach and his focus turns to the nation's capital.

Mr Trump planned to fly in for a dinner honouring Tom Barrack, his long-time friend and head of the Inauguration Committee. The president-elect will return to New York after the dinner.

He will make his final trip to Washington on Thursday to attend a concert at the Lincoln Memorial and to stay, as is custom for incoming presidents, at Blair House, the presidential guest quarters, the night before he is sworn in.

AP

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