After Lewis told NBC News’ Chuck Todd that he doesn’t “see this president-elect as a legitimate president” during an interview for Meet the Press, Trump fired back early Saturday morning, effectively telling Lewis to focus on his own constituents.
Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to……— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 14, 2017
mention crime infested) rather than falsely complaining about the election results. All talk, talk, talk – no action or results. Sad!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 14, 2017
During the Meet the Press interview, Lewis told Todd that he will not be attending the president’s inauguration. Echoing reports from the CIA, Lewis expanded by saying he thought the Russians hacked the election and helped destroy Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton‘s candidacy.
“I believe in forgiveness. I believe in trying to work with people. It’s going to be hard. It’s going to be very difficult,” Lewis said. “I don’t plan to attend the inauguration. It will be the first one that I’ll miss since I’ve been in Congress.”
With this upcoming Monday being Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Trump’s reaction to the criticism appears tone-deaf to some. Before being elected to Congress in 1986, Lewis built his political career as a civil rights leader in the ’60s, serving as a president of the civil rights organization, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and acting as one of the original freedom riders who fought for the enforcement of desegregation on buses in the South.
Lewis also co-organized and spoke at the March on Washington, when King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech—he’s the last living speaker from the rally, having been 23 at the time.
John Lewis marched with Dr. Martin Luther King. What have you done for civil rights? pic.twitter.com/sgmgdY8AGA— Chris Choi (@thischoi) January 14, 2017
John Lewis is a civil rights hero. His actions changed the lives of millions.— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) January 14, 2017
This is an ignorant and vile tweet. https://t.co/IhtJW6cNMn
On this Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, let it be clear that John Lewis is an American patriot. Trump's attacks on him further confirm it. pic.twitter.com/WavPT36Atu— Evan McMullin (@EvanMcMullin) January 14, 2017
Some of Lewis’s supporters on Saturday morning began sharing the hashtag #StandWithLewis in solidarity with the civil rights leader’s comments.
Lewis is not alone in his planned absence of Friday’s inauguration. Six other Democratic leaders have announced their boycott, including Reps. Luis Gutiérrez from Illinois; Katherine Clark from Massachusetts; Barbara Lee, Mark DeSaulnier, and Jared Huffman from California; and Raúl Grijalva from Arizona.
“You cannot be home with something that you feel is wrong,” Lewis said.