President Donald Trump said this week that he would not attend civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis memorial services Monday. As part of six days of funeral proceedings, Lewis will lie in state at the Capitol and the public would be allowed to visit on Monday and Tuesday. At 80 Lewis died of pancreatic cancer on July 17.
Trump left the White House on Monday afternoon for a trip to North Carolina, where he would visit a COVID-19 vaccine plant. Vice President Mike Pence and second lady Karen Pence are due to pay their respects on Monday evening as Lewis lies in hospital. Former Vice President Joe Biden and Jill Biden, to honour Lewis Monday, will also visit the Capitol. During the Civil Rights Movement, a March leader on Washington, and a member of the first Freedom Riders, Lewis served in Congress for more than three decades and campaigned against segregation and prejudice against Black Americans.
Trump and Lewis had a turbulent history. Trump hit out on Twitter at Lewis in 2017, accusing him of being “all talk … no intervention or results,” after the Congressman announced he would miss Trump’s inauguration. Because of Russian intervention in the 2016 election, Lewis deemed Trump an illegitimate President.
Lewis has declined to attend activities, including the opening of a civil rights museum in Mississippi, where Trump will be present. The day after his death Trump released a two-sentence tweet praising Lewis, and the White House lowered flags to half-staff.
Trump also stayed away from the late GOP Sen. John McCain ‘s 2018 memorial services during his presidency, at the behest of McCain ‘s relatives. Trump had a longtime rivalry with the Vietnam veteran and, after his death, continued to criticize him. Upon his death last year, he also refused to attend services for Rep. Elijah Cummings; the two clashed too. As he laid in state in 2018, the President paid tribute to former President George H. W. Bush. He also attended in the Capitol that year, when evangelical preacher Rev. Billy Graham laid in memory.
During the presidency of former President Barack Obama, the late Sen. Daniel Inouye was the only person to lie in office. Biden made speeches at the Capitol and both he and Obama appeared. It at his funeral at the National Cathedral in Washington in 2012.