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Number Of Democrats Boycotting Trump Inauguration Grows

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the nation's 45th president tomorrow. All kinds of political dignitaries will be there, even Trump's former political rival Hillary Clinton. However, there's a growing list of people who will not attend. More than 60 House Democrats say they're choosing to sit out the ceremony. One of them is Congresswoman Yvette Clarke. She represents New York's 9th District. She says she made her decision after a recent intelligence briefing on reports that Russia orchestrated a campaign to sway the election in Mr. Trump's favor.

When we reached her in her office, we asked her if she draws some kind of connection between Russian hacking and the president-elect's legitimacy.

YVETTE CLARKE: I can't speak to the legitimacy. What I can speak to is the integrity. And our election lacked integrity.

MARTIN: When you say our election lacked integrity, that is pretty strong language. Do you believe that the election wasn't democratic? You're calling into question the results?

CLARKE: What I'm saying is that there was a breach. There was a deliberate, very focused attempt that included Russian intelligence that was targeted specifically at the Democratic Party and at Hillary Clinton.

Secondly, I'm concerned about the nominees. When I look at all of the nominees that have been put forth by the incoming Trump administration - individuals who've made pronouncements that are antithetical to the agencies they will now govern - and when I think about these individuals, I don't see it in the best interests of the people that I represent here in Brooklyn.

MARTIN: How much of your decision to stay home had to do with the back-and-forth that the president-elect got into with Congressman John Lewis? John Lewis said that he believes Donald Trump's election to be illegitimate. And Donald Trump countered...

CLARKE: Yes.

MARTIN: ...Against the civil rights icon.

CLARKE: A man that holds that type of position should not be using Twitter to respond. There are a whole host of ways he could have responded to that. He could have called John Lewis directly; he could have asked for a meeting. But he chose to go on Twitter and not only go after the congressman but the people that the congressman represented and falsely put out a stereotype of the people that Congressman John Lewis represents, right during Martin Luther King weekend.

MARTIN: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, last week, told us that even though she clearly has profound differences with Donald Trump, she considers it her duty to attend the inauguration. What kind of message are you sending about our political system and our ability, as Americans, to come together even when we disagree profoundly?

CLARKE: Well, I think that each American has a right - a right to protest, a right to show their dissent, a right to celebrate. And I respect those members who are attending. I am making a decision based on my constituency and my personal convictions.

(SOUNDBITE OF D NUMBERS' "XYLEM UP")

MARTIN: That was Congresswoman Yvette Clarke. She's a Democrat from Brooklyn. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.