As It Happens

Dozens of lawmakers boycott Donald Trump inauguration

Congresswoman Barbara Lee explains why she won't be attending "divisive" President-elect Donald Trump's swearing-in.
Congresswoman Barbara Lee, right, will not attend Donald Trump's inauguration. (Left: AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, Right: AP Photo/Ben Margot)

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Donald Trump can cross a few names off his inauguration guest list.

Over the weekend, the President-elect attacked civil rights hero John Lewis — leading some lawmakers to reconsider their attendance at Trump's swearing-in party.

More than two dozen of Lewis' colleagues in the House of Representatives now say they are boycotting the inauguration.

Barbara Lee was already planning on skipping the event. She's a Democratic Congresswoman from California and member of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Here's part of Congresswoman Barbara Lee's conversation with As it Happens guest host Helen Mann.

HELEN MANN: Congresswoman Lee, what are your plans for Inauguration Day?

BARBARA LEE: Well, first, let me just mention that today is Dr. King's birthday. So, we're really honouring and celebrating the life and legacy of Dr. King. Part of what I'm talking about, in terms of celebrating his life and honouring his legacy, is that we have to really recognize and go back to some of what he stood for in terms of not only being a dreamer and a visionary, but an agent of change. In his speech, when he talked about Vietnam at Riverside Church in 1967, he said, "The time comes when silence is betrayal." And with regard to the inauguration, I recognize and respect the transfer of power — the fact that President-elect Donald Trump will be sworn in as president. And I don't intend to be part of a celebration of the new administration based on the divisiveness of what the new administration is, at least, proposing and presenting to the public.

HM: Did you intend to go to the inauguration before this dispute between Congressman Lewis and the tweet from Donald Trump that suggested that Congressman Lewis was all "talk, talk, talk"?

Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga. on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
BL: I decided not to go to the inauguration early last week . . . but with regard to Congressman Lewis, he's a moral leader, he's an icon, he's a civil and human rights leader and it's an insult, I think, to say Congressman Lewis is about "talk, talk, talk" when you can look at his record. When you look at the fact that he helped pass the Voting Rights Act . . . he's a phenomenal, effective legislator. So, it's just not right. It's inaccurate, unfair and it's an insult.  
HM: We have this pattern that has emerged already . . . where when anybody criticises Donald Trump, he responds with an attack on Twitter. Is this a preview of what the next four years might look like?

BL: Based on just what his history has been, it's hard to see him changing. I would hope that he becomes more presidential in his behaviour, but that remains to be seen.

HM: Are you willing to work with President Trump in any way?

BL: I've always wanted to bring people together. I come from a district that's a progressive district that's historically worked with everyone, all sides of the political spectrum. I believe it's very important for the president to lead and trying to bring the country together. I certainly will be one to help with that because we need a unified country. 


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