MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Members of Minnesota’s delegation are weighing in on the potential boycott of Donald Trump’s Friday inauguration.
Trump spent the weekend blasting Georgia Congressman John Lewis, who marched with King, after Lewis questioned the legitimacy of Trump’s election. Dozens of House Democrats now plan to skip the inauguration, some in support of Congressman Lewis.
On Twitter, Rep. Keith Ellison called the president-elect “the bully-in-Chief.” On Monday, he confirmed his decision to join at least 25 other members of Congress refusing to attend the inauguration, saying “I will not celebrate a man who preaches a politics of division and hate.”
Congressman Lewis said in an interview this weekend he did not consider Trump “a legitimate president.” Then the president-elect fired back on Twitter that Lewis was all talk and no action. Lewis was a close colleague of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and was beaten by police and arrested during protests in the 1960s.
Ellison is joining many of those who are boycotting by citing Rep Lewis status as a civil rights era hero.
Trump’s Twitter rebuke toward Lewis drew support from key Republicans, including vice president-elect Mike Pence.
“I was deeply disappointed to see someone of his stature to question the legitimacy of Donald Trump’s election,” Pence told Fox News.
Still, the attack on Lewis infuriated many. Lewis was beaten by police and arrested more than 40 times during civil rights protests. Minnesota Senator Al Franken tweeted on Martin Luther King Jr. day he would honor civil rights heroes not attack them, but an aide said Franken would attend the inauguration.
Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar criticized Trump’s tweet, but did say she has to attend the inauguration.
“I do not agree with Donald Trump’s criticism of Congressman Lewis and thought it was over the top. I believe he has a right to decide not to attend the inauguration,” Klobuchar said.
“I am actually the incoming, ranking member of the rules committee, So I don’t have a choice. I have a job to do, and I have to be there.”
Klobuchar added that she respects the decision of anyone who decides not to go to the inauguration.
Professor David Schultz of Hamline University said the boycott of the presidential inauguration by sitting members of Congress is unprecedented in modern times.
“The last time we had a mass boycott of an inauguration was when Abraham Lincoln was elected and all the southern states boycotted,” he said. “That is how rare it is.”
For perspective: There are 535 members of Congress, which means less than 10 percent of them are participating in the boycott so far.
The timing of the controversy is especially awkward — both Sunday night and Monday, the president-elect softened his tone on Twitter, saying he wanted to work with Lewis on healing inner cities. The President-elect also met with Martin Luther King Jr’s eldest son at Trump Tower in New York Monday.