19 Jan 2017

Trump inauguration boycott escalates

11:54 am on 19 January 2017

More than 50 Democrat lawmakers plan to boycott the inauguration of Donald Trump as president this week.

Donald Trump

Donald Trump will be sworn in as president this week. Photo: AFP

Mr Trump will be sworn in as the 45th US president in a ceremony at the Capitol in Washington DC on Saturday (NZT).

The inauguration will take place amidst a feud between the newly elected president and the civil rights activist and congressman, John Lewis.

Mr Lewis, a revered veteran of the 1960s struggle, plans to stay away from the ceremony. He sparked controversy on Friday when he called Mr Trump's victory illegitimate because of Russia's alleged interference in the election.

The president-elect hit back on Twitter, attacking the Georgia lawmaker as "all talk, talk, talk - no action or results", which prompted a wave of outrage from people saying if anyone embodied action, it was the 76-year-old.

"I will not celebrate a man who preaches a politics of division and hate," Representative Keith Ellison of Minnesota tweeted following the row.

Maryland Representative Anthony G Brown also tweeted that he was skipping the inauguration. "I respect the office, can't tolerate disrespect," he said.

The number joining the boycott rose to more than 40 over the Martin Luther King holiday weekend

Another refusing to go is the seasoned Democratic congressman Jerrold Nadler, from New York.

Mr Nadler said Mr Trump had disgraced himself in any number of ways before even entering office, including by his refusal to disclose his business interests to the public.

He said the peaceful transfer of power is essential but the pageantry was non-essential, and for him it felt inappropriate to honour Mr Trump in that way.

The incoming leader's main challenger for the presidency, Hillary Clinton, will attend the ceremony.

This is not the first time an opposition party has boycotted a presidential inauguration in sizeable numbers.

According to Arizona State University historian Brooks Simpson, 80 lawmakers missed Richard Nixon's 1973 swearing-in ceremony.

And Mr Lewis sat out George W Bush's 2001 event, along with some other members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

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