Politics

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

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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.

@realDonaldTrump: John Lewis said about my inauguration, "It will be the first one that I've missed." WRONG (or lie)! He boycotted Bush 43 also because he...

@realDonaldTrump: "thought it would be hypocritical to attend Bush's swearing-in....he doesn't believe Bush is the true elected president." Sound familiar! WP

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."

@realDonaldTrump: Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to......

@realDonaldTrump: mention crime infested) rather than falsely complaining about the election results. All talk, talk, talk - no action or results. Sad!

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.

@SenChrisCoons: Rep. John Lewis was beaten, bloodied & arrested 40+ times marching for civil rights. He is a true American hero & represents the best of us.

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.

@RepMarkTakano: "All talk, no action." I stand with @repjohnlewis and I will not be attending the inauguration.

@RepYvetteClarke: I will NOT attend the inauguration of @realDonaldTrump. When you insult @repjohnlewis, you insult America.

@RepJohnYarmuth: I believe the office of the President deserves our respect, and that respect must begin with the President-elect himself. My statement:

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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