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WASHINGTON — Rep. John Lewis and other Democrats are refusing to attend President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration — and more black lawmakers could be joining them.
Members are individually considering if they should participate in the inauguration of Trump, who this weekend, in a series of tweets, attacked Lewis, an icon of the civil rights movement, after Lewis criticized Trump and said he is an “illegitimate” president, because of Russian attempts to influence the election through email hacking.
The Congressional Black Caucus has not formally discussed boycotting as a group, sources told BuzzFeed News. Sources close to members that the CBC said it was unlikely the group would boycott the inauguration en masse. An official position from the group could come on Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, a source said.
So far Lewis, Reps. Barbara Lee, John Conyers, and Lacy Clay have all said they won’t attend. The members opposed to attending have cited Trump’s controversial campaigning, cabinet appointments, and the Russian efforts.
“I respect the peaceful transition of power, so this is not a decision I came to lightly,” Lee said in an email to BuzzFeed News. “After taking into consideration the concerning and divisive circumstances that led to the Trump presidency, I realized I could not in good conscience attend his inauguration.”
At the center of whatever the CBC decides, however, is Rep. Cedric Richmond, the young, newly-elected chair of the CBC.
On MSNBC’s AM Joy, Richmond said he had “serious doubts” about attending the inauguration, calling the criticism levied against Lewis “unfortunate, petty and silly,” and unbecoming of the president-elect just days out from becoming president.
In recent weeks, Richmond has led the CBC efforts against the nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions to lead the Justice Department. This week, he compared the timing of his, Sen. Cory Booker’s and Lewis’ testimony against Sessions at the end of the Senate Judiciary Committee witness hearing to being put “at the back of the bus.”
“The one thing, that I will not do is allow a personal attack or disrespect on any of the members of the Congressional Black Caucus,” Richmond said Saturday on MSNBC, “but certainly not John Lewis.”