John Lewis may turn 77 next month — but he’s energized and ready to rumble as Donald Trump’s presidency approaches.
As America honors the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Lewis — member of Congress, Freedom Rider, top organizer of the 1963 March on Washington — is taking on a new fight.
Lewis, D-Georgia, said in an interview on NBC News’ “Meet the Press” on Sunday, that he doesn’t believe Trump is a “legitimate president” and that he wouldn’t be attending the presidential inauguration for the first time in his 30-year political career, citing the intelligence community’s explosive findings over Russian hacking of the presidential election.
“I believe in forgiveness. I believe in trying to work with people, but it’s going to be very difficult,” Lewis said in the interview, which was recorded Friday. “I don’t see this president-elect as a legitimate president.”
“I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected and they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton,” he added.
Lewis’ stand didn’t go unnoticed. Trump retaliated on Twitter early Saturday with a flurry of criticism that continued throughout the weekend. He said Lewis was “all talk” and “should spend more time on fixing and helping his district.” The next day, Trump also tweeted that Lewis should “finally focus on the burning, crime infested inner-cities of the U.S.”
Congressman John Lewis should finally focus on the burning and crime infested inner-cities of the U.S. I can use all the help I can get!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 15, 2017
Vice-President-elect Mike Pence told Fox News on Sunday that he “was deeply disappointed” by Lewis’ comments and hoped he would reconsider his decision not to attend the inauguration.
But Trump’s retorts had already led to a firestorm of backlash ahead of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, with two dozen Democratic lawmakers announcing that they wouldn’t be attending Trump’s inauguration in solidarity with Lewis. Atlantans pushed back against Trump’s characterization of Lewis and their city.
Finish reading the story at NBCNews.com.