After a tense meeting with FBI Director James Comey Friday, Georgia Congressman John Lewis sat down with NBC News. He didn’t mince words about his takeaway from the meeting, which concerned Russia’s attempts to interfere in the election. “I don’t see this president-elect as a legitimate president,” Lewis said, noting he’d decided not to attend Trump’s inauguration.
“You cannot be at home with something that you feel that is wrong,” the revered civil rights leader said.
On Saturday, Trump lashed out at Lewis on Twitter. The 16-term Congressman, Trump wrote in a series of tweets, “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!”
The racist, inflammatory tweets – sent over a weekend honoring Martin Luther King Jr., no less – provided sufficient cover for many House Democrats who were none too enthusiastic about attending the inauguration anyway.
As of Tuesday afternoon, at least 56 House members – representing more than 10 percent of Congress – had announced they were joining John Lewis in boycotting the inauguration.
Here are a few of their reasons why, in their own words.
Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN)
“I value our government. I appreciate it greatly. This president semi-elect does not deserve to be president of the United States. He has not exhibited the characteristics and the values that we hold dear.”
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY)
“The rhetoric and actions of Donald Trump have been so far beyond the pale – so disturbing and disheartening – and his continued failure to address his conflicts of interest, to adequately divest or even to fully disclose his financial dealings, or to sufficiently separate himself from the ethical misconduct that legal experts on both side of the aisle have identified have been so offensive I cannot in good conscience participate in this honored and revered democratic tradition of the peaceful transfer of power.”
Rep. Raul Grijalva (R-AZ)
“I will not be attending the inauguration of Donald Trump as our next president. My absence is not motivated by disrespect for the office or motivated by disrespect for the government that we have in this great democracy, but as an individual act, yes, 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.”
Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR)
“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 ass out there in the cold for this particular ceremony.”
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA)
“Donald Trump has proven that his administration will normalize the most extreme fringes of the Republican Party. On Inauguration Day, I will not be celebrating. I will be organizing and preparing for resistance.”
“I respectfully decline to freeze my ass out there in the cold for this particular ceremony.” —Rep. Kurt Schrader
Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL)
“I cannot go to inauguration of a man who’s going to appoint people to the Supreme Court and turn back the clock on women and turn back the clock on immigrants and the safety and freedom that we fought for them.”
Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-NY)
“Many have given their lives and dedicated their lives to working to fulfill Dr. King’s dream and make it a reality, and it is up to us to preserve his legacy and the legacy of President Barack Obama to ensure that we do not go back in time! President-elect Donald Trump is trying to take us back! And the people Trump is appointing – Steve Bannon, Jeff Sessions – are trying to take us back! That’s why I am not attending the presidential inauguration. Donald Trump and the hate-filled rhetoric that plagued his election simply will continue in his administration. THIS is not Dr. King’s Dream!”
Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI)
“[A]fter 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. At minimum it’s time for Donald Trump to start acting like President Trump, not an immature, undignified reality star with questionable friends and a Twitter addiction. I hope for better, but will not hold my breath.”
Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA)
“I will not be part of normalizing or legitimizing a man whose election may well have depended on the malicious foreign interference of Russia’s leaders, a person who lies profusely and without apology, who mimics the disabilities of others, who insults anyone who dares disagree with him, who would demonize an entire spiritual tradition, and who has demonstrated again and again a profound disrespect for women. His values and his actions are the antithesis of those I hold dear. It would be the height of hypocrisy for me to pretend to be a part of his inaugural celebration.”
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA)
“I acknowledge the fact that he is the incoming president, but I’m not in the mood to celebrate that fact.”
Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-CA)
“A real president doesn’t attack the press because they ask tough questions. A real president doesn’t insult and bully celebrities or everyday Americans because they disagree with him. A real president doesn’t use the office to make millions more for his own wealth or his family’s wealth.”
Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA)
“Believe me, I have a lot of statements against Donald Trump, his policies, and the way he behaves. What he said in response to [Rep.] John Lewis’s comments was remarkably ignorant – even for him. [But] I’m not not going to the inauguration as a statement. I’m not going because I’d prefer to be home.”