- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 17, 2017

WASHINGTON (AP) - As next Friday’s presidential inauguration of Donald J. Trump draws closer, speculation over who won’t be in attendance has become as much a talking point as the event itself, with more than 50 members of Congress already saying they’ll skip the ceremony.

In the Maryland congressional delegation, Rep. Anthony Brown, D-Upper Marlboro, said that he won’t go to Trump’s swearing-in on Friday.

Another Maryland lawmaker, Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Baltimore, has said he is undecided.

Brown announced his decision on Facebook post Monday afternoon after Trump posted several tweets attacking Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., for comments Lewis made stating that he did not consider Trump’s presidency to be “legitimate” because of potential Russian involvement in the election.

After weeks of growing concern from politicians of both parties over the president-elect’s behavior - from his dismissal of allegations of Russian interference in the election to his team’s unconventional selection and handling of cabinet appointees - several Democrats in Congress have announced their plans to boycott the ceremony in recent days.

But the number escalated quickly following Trump’s attack on Lewis Saturday.

Lewis was a well-known leader in the civil rights movement who was instrumental in ending legal racial segregation in the United States. He has been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and many other awards for his commitment to ensuring civil rights equality.

Brown stated on Facebook that Trump’s recent verbal attack on Lewis demanded his absence from the inauguration.

“President-elect Trump, you have the undeniable right to take issue and disagree with John Lewis’ opinion,” Brown wrote. “But Mr. Trump, you need to think carefully about disparaging a Civil Rights icon such as John Lewis, let alone anyone exercising their freedom of expression that many of us have fought for.”

While Brown will not be in attendance, most of the rest of the Maryland delegation will be.

The presence of Rep. Andy Harris, R-Cockeysville, was never in doubt. As the only Republican serving historically Democratic Maryland in Congress, Harris is a noted Trump supporter and has recently been in talks with the president-elect over a possible appointment as head of the National Institutes of Health.

Democratic Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, as well as Democratic Reps. Dutch Ruppersberger, John Sarbanes, Steny Hoyer, John Delaney and Jamie Raskin, all have said that they’ll attend Trump’s inauguration.

Maryland congressmen haven’t been shy in expressing their misgivings about Trump in the past.

Cardin is part of a group of Democratic senators working on a bill that would require Trump to put all his business assets into an actual blind trust, while Van Hollen has been vocal in his opposition to the opening of the controversial Trump International Hotel in Washington.

Both Cardin and Cummings are part of a joint effort by Democrats in the Senate and House to pass a bill that would establish a nonpartisan commission to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

But skipping out on a presidential inauguration would indicate a significant departure from tradition, according to Raskin.

“It’s obviously no expression of any political support for the president-elect’s programs. But I’m a constitutional patriot and I think I should be present for the transfer of power,” the first-term congressman from Takoma Park - who’s also planning to attend protest events - told Bethesda Magazine on Monday. “I also feel that as a local representative and champion of Congress, I don’t want to run away from this.”

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