Dozens of House Democrats plan to skip Donald Trump’s inauguration as the 45th president of the United States, casting a partisan pall over the historic event and prompting allies of the president-elect to say the losers of the November election need to get over themselves.
Some of the Democrats say they can’t stomach Mr. Trump’s rhetoric, while others go further, saying his election was so tainted that they refuse to accept the results.
“He was legally elected, but the Russian weighing-in on the election, the Russian attempt to hack the election and, frankly, the FBI’s weighing-in on the election, I think, makes his election illegitimate, puts an asterisk next to his name,” Rep. Jerrold Nadler, New York Democrat, said Monday on CNN.
Also skipping the inauguration is Rep. Steve Cohen, Tennessee Democrat, who called Mr. Trump the “president semi-elect” during a Monday event commemorating the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
“This president semi-elect does not deserve to be president of the United States,” Mr. Cohen said. “He has not exhibited the characteristics and the values that we hold dear.”
Vice President-elect Mike Pence said the challenges to Mr. Trump’s legitimacy were “baseless” and that it was time to get beyond them.
“It is a distraction. … Just politics as usual, and the American people are tired of it,” Mr. Pence said on “Fox and Friends.”
He said this is a week when people should be coming together and that he hoped Rep. John Lewis, Georgia Democrat and an icon of the civil rights movement, would reconsider his refusal to attend the inauguration.
Mr. Lewis, in an interview with NBC, said Mr. Trump was elected as a result of a conspiracy and that he didn’t think the president-elect was legitimate.
Mr. Lewis, like many other holdouts, is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus. Speaking at a King holiday celebration Monday in Miami, he didn’t explicitly mention Mr. Trump but did issue a call for Americans to speak out when they feel it’s needed.
“As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, hate is too heavy a burden to bear,” he said.
Mr. Lewis’ boycott drew a rebuke from Mr. Trump, who over the weekend posted on Twitter that the congressman was “falsely complaining” about the election.
“All talk, talk, talk - no action or results. Sad!” the president-elect tweeted. “Congressman John Lewis should finally focus on the burning and crime infested inner-cities of the U.S. I can use all the help I can get!”
Mr. Trump’s return of fire appears to have angered Democrats even more. Mr. Nadler said a “last straw” for him in his decision to avoid the inauguration was the president-elect’s “ad hominem personal attacks” on Mr. Lewis.
Incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Monday that Mr. Trump understands the “iconic nature” of Mr. Lewis and that he would consider reaching out to him.
“But I think there has got to be a willingness for John Lewis, who has fought so hard for voting and civil rights, to not use language about delegitimizing an election and the integrity of our voting system that he has frankly been a real champion of,” Mr. Spicer said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
Meanwhile, Rep. Chris Collins, New York Republican and a member of the presidential transition team, said Mr. Lewis is “pouting.”
“They can’t get over the fact they lost, and what do spoiled little kids do, you know, they run around and throw a tantrum,” Mr. Collins said on Fox Business Network.
“They are pouting and, frankly, it’s somewhat enjoyable to watch because it shows you again how upset they are, and when they were so smug when they left Congress knowing that Hillary Clinton was going to win,” he said.