Trump's inauguration won't be first one Rep. John Lewis will miss

Representative John Lewis, a Democrat from Georgia.
Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Donald Trump's inauguration won't actually be the first one civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis skips.

Trump tweeted Tuesday that Lewis also boycotted George W. Bush's inauguration in 2001.

A spokeswoman for Lewis confirmed that the Georgia Democrat missed Bush's first inauguration.

"His absence at that time was also a form of dissent. 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," the spokeswoman said in a statement.

In an interview Friday with NBC News' "Meet the Press," Lewis said he doesn't believe Trump is a "legitimate president" and that he doesn't plan to attend Trump's inauguration. The congressman said it would be the first time he'd miss an inauguration since he was elected to the House in 1986.

Lewis explained that he thinks Russian interference boosted Trump's campaign and "helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton." While Lewis said he believes in forgiveness and trying to work with people, the civil rights pioneer said it will be "very difficult" to work with Trump.

The president-elect retaliated Saturday morning, tweeting that the congressman is "all talk, talk, talk" and "should spend more time on fixing and helping his district."

Many Democratic lawmakers jumped in to defend Lewis, who led the historic March on Washington in 1963 and was severely injured by Alabama state troopers in a 1965 march for voting rights from Selma to Montgomery.

Some had already announced they would not be attending Trump's inauguration, but many more came forward following Trump's tweets, which came days before Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Reps. Mark Takano of California, Yvette Clarke of New York and John Yarmuth of Kentucky were among the Democratic members of Congress who said they will not be attending the inauguration on Friday.

Correction: This story was revised to correct that Trump's tweet was Tuesday and to correct the spelling of Rep. Yvette Clarke's last name.

— NBC News contributed to this report.

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