Although the number of members of Congress boycotting the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump is growing, no Connecticut politicians are planning to skip the event.
As of Tuesday morning, the number of Democratic members of Congress saying they will boycott Trump’s inauguration this Friday had increased to nearly four dozen.
U.S. Reps. John Larson, Jim Himes, Joe Courtney, Rosa DeLauro and Elizabeth Esty will attend the inauguration. U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy will also attend.
“While I respect different decisions made by others, I will attend the inauguration out of respect for our nation’s peaceful transition of power and as part of my official duties,” Blumenthal said Monday.
Many who aren’t attending have have cited Trump’s Twitter attack last Friday against Georgia Congressman John Lewis.
Lewis, in an interview last week said he didn’t consider Trump to be a “legitimate president,’’ stating he felt that way because of evidence that the Russians used hacking techniques to influence the presidential election.
Trump responded to Lewis’ comments by tweeting that Lewis was “All talk, talk, talk, – no action or results.”
Lewis, a prominent member of the American civil rights movement, is considered a hero to many. He was among those beaten by police during the Selma-Montgomery voting rights march of 1965.
Lewis represents a Georgia congressional district that Trump called “crime-infested.” An allegation which is hard to prove because crime statistics are not collected by congressional district.
The president-elect’s insults, made just days ahead of Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, were the final straw for a number of Democrats who will break with tradition by boycotting the inauguration ceremony on Friday.
“When you insult Rep. John Lewis, you insult America,” said Yvette Clarke, one of five New York representatives who will boycott the inauguration.
While he will attend the inauguration, Blumenthal added: “In the challenging, difficult days to come, I will be fighting for the people of Connecticut and the constitutional rights and values that make America great, even if means standing up and speaking out in disagreement with this incoming administration.”
Blumenthal will also attend the Women’s March on Washington, the day after the inauguration.
“I will observe this moment in history with both respect and dissent, marching on Saturday with thousands of strong, brave women,” Blumenthal said.
The march, organized by those concerned about what a Trump presidency means for women’s healthcare and reproductive rights, is expected to bring more than 200,000 women to the nation’s capital.
In attendance at the inauguration, also, will be Connecticut’s junior senator, Chris Murphy.
“If Donald Trump pursues the divisive, backward, hurtful agenda as President that he has previewed as President-elect, I will fight him every step of the way,” Murphy said. “I will be at the inauguration on Friday as a sign of respect for the office, and I will be ready to start the fight as soon as the swearing in is over.”
Murphy added that he will be ready “the next day to start this fight” against Trump and many of the president-elect cabinet choice nominees whose policies “will be devastating to thousands in Connecticut.”
Murphy said the “outrage is coming at such a pace it is too much to talk about,” concerning Trump’s actions since he was elected president. Both senators said that from reports of Russia hacking the election to help Trump’s candidacy to questionable nominees for high-level cabinet positions that the United States is in a political turmoil that it hasn’t seen before.
What is clear, Murphy added, is “this coming year will be my most important ever serving since I’ve been in office.”
Blumenthal and Murphy both said they were hoping, at first, to work with Trump, even though he wasn’t their choice to lead the country.
Esty, who represents a district where voters in several towns voted for Trump over Hillary Clinton, will also attend the inauguration.
“I will be attending the inauguration Friday because of my deep respect for a cherished American tradition: the peaceful transfer of power,” Esty said.
“The next day, I plan to join hundreds of my constituents for the D.C. Women’s March,” Esty added. “The march in Washington will put both Congress and President-elect Trump on notice that the American people will oppose any effort to roll back the rights of women or to roll back the civil rights that heroes like John Lewis and so many others have fought for throughout our history.”
Also attending Friday’s inauguration will be Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.
Malloy, who is the head of the Democratic Governors Association, released a statement last Friday saying he would be in Washington to watch Trump’s inauguration.
But his statement about attending certainly wasn’t flattering of Trump.
He said, in part: “In the wake of this election and in opposition to many of the President-elect’s recent actions, we are called upon to stand up, dust ourselves off, to be seen, and to be heard.
We should be represented at the inauguration as a signal that we are not going away, and that we are resolved to continue fighting for fairness, equality, and decency.’’
Trump sought to deflect some of the criticism by meeting on Monday afternoon with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s oldest son at Trump Tower in New York City.
In national exit polling in November, black voters favored Clinton over Trump by a margin of 89 percent to 8 percent.
Trump tweeted on Monday: “Celebrate Martin Luther King Day and all the many wonderful things that he stood for. Honor him for the great man that he was!”
After sitting down with Trump, Martin Luther King III said he had a “very constructive meeting’’ with the president-elect, adding that he hopes to be a “bridge-builder” to help the country “become a greater nation” moving forward.
Concerning Trump’s tweeted comments about Lewis, Martin Luther King III said that, “in the heat of emotion, a lot things get said on both sides.”
Trump briefly joined King in the lobby of Trump Tower on Monday but ignored reporters’ shouted questions about his comments about Lewis.
But on Tuesday, Trump reignited his feud with Lewis, citing news reports that the Georgia congressman also boycotted George W. Bush’s inauguration 16 years ago.
“John Lewis said bout my inauguration, “It will be the first one that I’ve missed,” Trump tweeted. “WRONG (or lie)! He boycotted Bush 43 … “
Lewis’ office acknowledged Tuesday that the congressman also skipped Bush’s inauguration in 2001.
“His absence at that time was also a form of dissent,” spokeswoman Brenda Jones said. “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.”