President Trump on Monday said he does not plan to visit the U.S. Capitol over the next two days to pay his respects to Rep. John Lewis, the Democratic congressman from Georgia and civil rights icon who died earlier this month.
Speaking to reporters on the South Lawn, Trump was asked whether he planned to visit the Capitol Rotunda, where Lewis’s body will lie in state for private ceremonies before his casket is moved to the steps of the Capitol for public viewing.
“No, I won’t be going, no,” Trump said Monday when asked if he planned to attend the viewing of Lewis’s casket. The president spoke to reporters as he departed the White House en route for North Carolina, where he will participate in a roundtable discussion on the coronavirus crisis. (Trump is scheduled to return to Washington at 6 p.m. ET.)
Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, who served in Congress alongside Lewis, is expected to visit the Capitol Monday to pay his respects.
Vice President Mike Pence, who was in Miami Monday, is also expected to pay his respects to Lewis upon his return.
Lewis, 80, died on July 18 from complications due to pancreatic cancer.
The civil rights icon was openly critical of the president.
In 2017, Lewis said he did not view Trump as a “legitimate president,” citing Russia’s interference in the 2016 election; Trump responded by calling the Atlanta congressional district Lewis represented “crime-infested.”
Lewis did not attend Trump’s inauguration, leading a group of more than 60 Democratic lawmakers in a boycott of the swearing-in.
“You cannot be at home with something that you feel that is wrong,” he explained at the time.
While there was an outpouring of bipartisan tributes and remembrances following Lewis’s death, Trump’s was barely noticeable.
“Saddened to hear the news of civil rights hero John Lewis passing,” Trump tweeted the afternoon following the congressman’s death. “Melania and I send our prayers to he and his family.”
Trump and first lady Melania Trump did attend the Capitol Rotunda viewing for former President George H.W. Bush following his death in 2018. (Earlier that year, Trump was not invited to the state funeral for Sen. John McCain, whom he publicly disparaged even after his death.)
Asked at a briefing last week whether the president planned to attend the memorial services for Lewis in Washington, D.C., press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said she was not aware of such plans.
“John Lewis was a civil rights icon; we lowered the flag at the White House here to signify that,” she said.
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