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Advocacy group prods Thomas Suozzi to boycott inauguration

Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove), right, and his

Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove), right, and his wife, Helene, with House Speaker Paul Ryan on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017, as the 115th Congress opened for business in Washington, D.C. Photo Credit: AP / Jose Luis Magana

A local progressive organization is urging freshman Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) to skip Friday’s presidential inauguration, saying that attending would “dignify or legitimize” Donald Trump’s actions.

Suozzi responded with a statement in which he confirmed his attendance.

“This is not about Tom Suozzi and Donald Trump,” he said. “It is the United States Congress and the President.”

In a letter Wednesday, Reach Out America, a Great Neck nonprofit that advocates on issues including the First Amendment and the environment, asked Suozzi to join about 50 fellow House Democrats who have said they will boycott Trump’s inauguration after the president-elect’s criticism of Democratic Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, a veteran of the civil rights movement.

Lewis had said he doesn’t view Trump as a legitimate president, citing the intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia attempted to influence the election in Trump’s favor through the hacking of Democratic targets. Trump fired back that Lewis was “all talk . . . no actions or results.”

The letter is signed by Reach Out chair Rita Hall and others, including member Robert Zimmerman, a Democratic National Committeeman from Great Neck. It  said Trump’s “unconscionable attack on John Lewis, a man revered by people of every political stripe, is only the tipping point.”

While “we recognize that President-elect Trump will legally be the president, we do not regard his conduct as legitimate,” the letter said. “We ask you to join us in making a statement about the standards of decency and honor that we expect from a President of the United States.”

Suozzi, whose comments about Trump have struck a more optimistic and cooperative tone than those of many other House Democrats, noted in his response that he didn’t vote for Trump and that Trump’s “disrespect of John Lewis was wholly inappropriate.

“However, the peaceful transition of power is what sets the United States apart from many other countries, and it is bigger than Donald Trump,” Suozzi said.

Suozzi said he expected to stand against many of Trump’s policies, but “skipping the inauguration is not the way to do it.”

Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City), will attend the inauguration, her office said. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-St. Albans), who represents a portion of Western Nassau County, has not announced whether he will attend, a spokesman said.

With Tom Brune

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