Rep. Anthony G. Brown on Monday became the first Maryland congressman to say he will not attend President-elect Donald J. Trump's inauguration, pointing to the Republican's criticism of a congressman and civil rights icon over the weekend.
Brown, a first-term Democrat from the state's 4th Congressional District, announced his decision on Twitter on Monday, joining a growing number of Democrats planning to be somewhere else when Trump takes the oath of office Friday.
Brown said his decision was based on Trump's tweets on Saturday directed at Democratic Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, a civil rights activist who was among the original Freedom Riders. Tweeting days ahead of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, Trump described Lewis as "talk, talk, talk — no action or results" and described his district as "crime infested."
"I have been wrestling with this decision for quite some time," Brown said in an interview late Monday. "Not only did the president-elect disrespect John Lewis the civil rights icon, but he disrespected Congressman John Lewis, and that was the tipping point."
Lewis had questioned the legitimacy of Trump's presidency during an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press" that became public on Friday.
"I don't see this president-elect as a legitimate president," Lewis said. "I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected. And they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton."
Several other Democrats across the country have said they are skipping the inauguration, including Reps. Raul M. Grijalva of Arizona, Katherine Clark of Massachusetts, and Earl Blumenauer and Kurt Schrader of Oregon.
No other Maryland Democrats have said they will skip the event. Reps. Steny Hoyer of Southern Maryland, John Sarbanes of Baltimore County and C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger of Baltimore County will also attend. Rep. Jamie Raskin of Montgomery County initially said he would attend but announced on Tuesday that he would not. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings of Baltimore said he is still deciding. Other Democrats in the state's congressional delegation could not be reached for comment late Monday.
"I respect the office of the president of the United States," Brown said. "And I do hope that the president-elect, Mr. Trump, will soon earn the respect of all the people."
Brown, a former lieutenant governor, was elected in November to the seat previously held by Rep. Donna F. Edwards. The 4th District also includes a portion of Anne Arundel County.