Two Jewish members of U.S. Congress announced on Monday that they will not attend president-elect Donald Trump's inauguration ceremony in Washington, D.C., planned for Friday morning, joining 23 other Democrats in an extraordinary act of protest.
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The first announcement came from Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), who said that Trump's conduct is "a threat to the institutions and values of our democracy." He also cited Trump’s "continued failure to address his conflicts of interest, to adequately divest or even to fully disclose his financial dealings."
The second congressman was Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN), who announced that he would skip the inauguration due to "un-presidential remarks" made by Trump. Cohen added that he would miss the ceremony out of "respect for John Lewis," referring to a congressman and former civil rights leader who called Trump "illegitimate" in light of Russia's interference during the presidential election. Trump attacked Lewis over his statement, describing him on Twitter as "All talk, talk, talk – no action or results" and falsely describing Lewis' home district in the city of Atlanta as "falling apart" and "crime infested."
It is highly unusual for members of Congress to publicly announce they will not attend the presidential inauguration and to cite political and ideological reasons for doing so.
One Republican Senator, Ben Sasse (R-NE) took to Twitter to try and convince Rep. Lewis to change his decision and attend the event despite his opposition to Trump. "To John Lewis, one of my heroes," Sasse wrote, "Please come to the Inauguration. It isn't about a man. It is a celebration of peaceful transition of power."
Sasse later also expressed support for Lewis in light of Trump's attacks, tweeting that "John Lewis and his ‘talk’ have changed the world." Sasse was one of Trump's most outspoken critics within the Republican party in the lead-up to the last election. So far, no Republicans have joined the ranks of Reps. Lewis, Nadler and Cohen by stating they will avoid the ceremony on Friday.