People Can’t Believe Trump Is Feuding With Civil Rights Leader John Lewis

The Georgia Democrat said Trump is not a legitimate president due to Russian interference in the election.

Donald Trump on Saturday kicked off the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend by criticizing civil rights leader and US Rep. John Lewis, a day after the Georgia Democrat said he doesn’t see Trump as a legitimate president because of Russian interference with the US election.

Evan Vucci / AP Photo

Lewis told Chuck Todd of Meet the Press that he won’t be attending Trump’s inauguration on Jan. 20.

“I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected and they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton,” said Lewis, who spoke alongside Martin Luther King Jr. at the 1963 March On Washington. “I don’t plan to attend the inauguration.”

Lewis said Russian involvement was why he did not believe Trump was a “legitimate president.”

“I think there was a conspiracy on the part of the Russians and others to help him get elected,” Lewis said. “That’s not right. That’s not fair. That’s not the open democratic process.”

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It will be the first inauguration Lewis doesn’t attend in his 30-year congressional career.

Lewis’ interview on Meet the Press is scheduled to air Sunday morning, but NBC released a preview of the exchange Friday afternoon.

Asked if he would work with the incoming president, Lewis said he believed in forgiveness and working with others but said that “it’s going to be hard.”

Trump’s transition team did not immediately respond to requests for comment, but on Saturday Trump tweeted about Lewis, criticizing him for being “all talk, talk, talk — no action or results.”

Reacting on Twitter, people were incredulous that Trump chose to criticize Lewis.

The president elect has started the Martin Luther King holiday weekend by attacking John Lewis, one of the great heros of civil rights era.

— Ryan Lizza (@RyanLizza)

It's telling, I'm afraid, that Donald Trump treats Vladimir Putin with more respect than he does John Lewis.

— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol)

Trump has never taken a shot at Putin or Assad half as hard as the slam he dished out to John Lewis.

— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias)

John Lewis fought for civil rights, Trump paid for ads demanding the execution of five innocent Black teens. America, folks

— Rebecca Theodore (@FilmFatale_NYC)

John Lewis's entire life has been dedicated to Making America Great while Trump only uses it as a slogan.

— Matthew A. Cherry (@MatthewACherry)

Many chose to highlight Lewis’ civil rights work, including his being beaten by police in Selma in 1965, to counter Trump’s claim that he was “all talk.”

Donald Trump says John Lewis is all talk. Here's a picture of John Lewis being beaten by a state trooper on "Bloo… https://t.co/tQV4XhAYc1

— Matt Fuller (@MEPFuller)

The thing that's striking about America's historical amnesia and racism, is that many of the policeman who beat John Lewis are still alive.

— Clint Smith (@ClintSmithIII)

John Lewis was arrested 45 times, while Donald Trump dodged the draft. All talk, no action.

— Michael Skolnik (@MichaelSkolnik)

Despite the social media uproar, Trump continued to criticize the Georgia congressman. By Saturday evening, he followed up with another tweet.

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)

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Kamala Harris, former independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin, and the civil rights groups the NAACP and the Southern Poverty Law Center also defended Lewis.

Ahead of #MLKday2017, let us remember that many have tried to silence @repjohnlewis over the years. All have failed.

— Nancy Pelosi (@NancyPelosi)

John Lewis is an icon of the Civil Rights Movement who is fearless in the pursuit of justice and equality. He deser… https://t.co/YPSVUS6T4g

— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris)

On this Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, let it be clear that John Lewis is an American patriot. Trump's attacks on… https://t.co/NUp3im1z8P

— Evan McMullin (@Evan_McMullin)

John Lewis is an American hero who has changed this country for the better with courage, sacrifice, and a lifelong… https://t.co/arqNNvZu1o

— SPLC (@splcenter)

@repjohnlewis a living civil rights icon - we know what you've done and appreciated it! #weshallnotbemoved… https://t.co/QnUQpGxmfS

— NAACP (@NAACP)

Some Trump supporters, though, agreed with the president-elect that Lewis’s focus was misplaced or defended Trump’s right to hit back.

Damn right! Get to work fixing communities #MAGA https://t.co/eQpbXBhYd8

— Irredeemable Me🐸 (@JayCougs)

John Lewis trashes Trump as illegitimate president, so Trump has a pop back... but only Trump is the villain? Am I missing something?

— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan)

Lewis’s comments come after intelligence agencies said Russia was behind the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and Clinton’s campaign chairman during the race as a way to help elect Trump.

Lewis also spoke amid reports that Trump and President Obama were briefed on a 35-page dossier alleging Russia was in contact with Trump’s campaign during the election and that the Kremlin had compiled compromising personal and financial details about the incoming president.

BuzzFeed News published the dossier, and like other news agencies has been unable to verify the details. Trump has denied the allegations made in the dossier and attacked BuzzFeed News at a news conference on Wednesday.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said in a statement the intelligence agencies have “not made any judgment that the information in this document is reliable.”

FBI Director James Comey was scheduled to brief members of congress Friday about the 35-page dossier.

A spokeswoman for Lewis told BuzzFeed News the congressman was unable to attend the briefing. She declined to answer other questions, such as when Lewis decided not to attend the inauguration.
























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Salvador Hernandez is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.
Contact Salvador Hernandez at salvador.hernandez@buzzfeed.com.
David Mack is a reporter and weekend editor for BuzzFeed News in New York.
Contact David Mack at david.mack@buzzfeed.com.
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