Trump says he will not visit Capitol to pay respects to John Lewis

The president previously said he was 'saddened' by news of the congressman's death, calling him a civil rights hero in a tweet.

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump has made clear that he will not be visiting the U.S. Capitol to pay his respects to Representative John Lewis (D-GA), who died July 17 after a months-long battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 80. 

“I won’t be going, no,” Trump told reporters Monday when asked if he planned to visit the Capitol to pay his respects to Lewis, The Hill reports.

Lewis will lie in state at the Capitol as part of nearly week of funeral proceedings. theGRIO previously reported, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi led a delegation Monday to Joint Base Andrews in Maryland to greet Lewis’s flag-draped casket. A motorcade carrying the body stopped at Black Lives Matter Plaza on its way to the U.S. Capitol, where he will be the first Black lawmaker to lie in state in the Rotunda.

Read More: John Lewis 1st Black lawmaker to lie in state in Capitol rotunda

Pelosi and others attended a private ceremony in the Rotunda on Monday before Lewis’s body was moved to the steps on the Capitol’s east side for a public viewing. The COVID-19 pandemic has closed the Capitol to the public.

Inside the Rotunda and outdoors, signs welcomed visitors with a reminder that masks would be required.

Trump was noticeably absent from the ceremonies on July 27. Lewis once called him an illegitimate president and chided him for stoking racial discord. Trump countered by blasting Lewis’ Atlanta congressional district as “crime-infested.”

“I don’t see this president-elect as a legitimate president,” Lewis told NBC’s “Meet the Press” in January 2017. “I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected and they have destroyed the candidacy of Hillary Clinton.”

The president said he was “saddened” by news of Lewis’s death, calling him a civil rights hero in a tweet.

“Saddened to hear the news of civil rights hero John Lewis passing,” Trump tweeted. “Melania and I send our prayers to he and his family.”

Read More: House approves Clyburn proposal to rename Voting Rights Act after John Lewis

In contrast, upon hearing about the death of TV personality Regis Philbin on Saturday, Trump had plenty of praise for “one of the greats in the history of television,” he wrote. “He was a fantastic person, and my friend.” 

Trump then noted that Philbin, “holds the record for ‘most live television’, and he did it well. Regis, we love you … And to Joy, his wonderful wife who he loved so much, my warmest condolences!!!” 

Meanwhile, every former living president has issued lengthy, touching tributes to Lewis.

Trump did not attend the 2018 memorial services of late GOP Sen. John McCain. He was also a no-show for Rep. Elijah Cummings homegoing ceremony after his death last year. He sparred with both men before they passed.

Lewis’ casket arrived in the Capitol on Monday, following a journey through his home state of Alabama.

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