Lewis Backs Out of Inauguration Ban Claim

Georgia Democrat acknowledges Trump won’t be first swearing-in he refused to attend

Rep. John Lewis testifies against the nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions,  President-elect Trump’s nominee for attorney general. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. John Lewis’ office is walking back comments he made Sunday about boycotting the presidential inauguration for the first time after he was blasted by Donald Trump about not attending the swearing-in of former President George W. Bush.

Citing a 2001 Washington Post article, Trump tweeted Tuesday that Lewis had also skipped the inauguration of the 43rd president because “he thought it would be hypocritical to attend Bush’s swearing-in because he doesn’t believe Bush is the true elected president.”

“Sound familiar!” Trump tweeted.

Lewis’ office acknowledged the Georgia Democrat also had skipped the 2001 swearing-in, according to USA Today.

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

Lewis told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he would not attend Trump’s inauguration, charging that Trump’s presidency is illegitimate.

“I don’t see this president-elect as a legitimate president,” Lewis told NBC’s “Meet the Press with Chuck Todd” in an interview. “I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected. And they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton.”

Lewis was referring to the U.S. intelligence community conclusion that Russia hacked the Democratic National Committee’s computer systems with the intention of helping Trump win the presidency.

Lewis said at the time it would be the first one he’d miss since he came to Congress in 1986.

But Trump, citing the 2001 Washington Post article, said that was not true.



Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.