Congressman John Lewis, a civil rights icon who marched alongside the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and helped organize the March on Washington, was criticized by President-elect Donald Trump as “all talk.” The attack on the Georgia congressman was in response to Lewis’ new interview with NBC News’ Chuck Todd.
“Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to mention crime infested) rather than falsely complaining about the election results. All talk, talk, talk – no action or results. Sad!” Trump wrote in his early-morning Twitter rant.
Late Saturday night, Trump added this:
The comments about Lewis came after NBC News released portions of Lewis’ interview with Chuck Todd that will air on the January 15 episode of Meet The Press. In the interview, he said he doesn’t see “this president-elect as a legitimate president” because of Russia’s impact on the election.
“I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected. And they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton,” Lewis said. He also told Todd that he doesn’t plan on attending the inauguration.
“I don’t plan to attend the inauguration,” Lewis said. “It will be the first one that I miss since I’ve been in Congress. You cannot be at home with something that you feel that is wrong, is not right.”
Lewis has represented Georgia’s fifth Congressional district since 1987 and was one of the key figures of the 1960s Civil Rights movement. Along with King, Lewis was one of the “Big Six” who helped organize the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Lewis is the only living member of the group. The Alabama-born Lewis was also arrested several times during the Civil Rights movement and was one of the original 13 Freedom Riders.
Lewis’ activism continued into 2016. In January 2016, Lewis said Trump reminds him of the late Alabama Governor George Wallace. “I think demagogues are pretty dangerous, really. … We shouldn’t divide people, we shouldn’t separate people,” Lewis told the Los Angeles Times.
He also participated in the June 2016 sit-in to attempt to force a vote on gun safety in the wake of the Pulse nightclub shooting. Earlier this week, Lewis also testified against Trump’s nomination of Jeff Sessions for Attorney General.
Many on Twitter found it stunning that Trump would attack Lewis on Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend and ironic that he’d attack someone who put his life on the line during the Civil Rights movement. Others also pointed out that while Trump found a way to get out of Vietnam, Lewis was fighting to change America.
Evan McMullin, who ran an independent presidential campaign in 2016, told Trump:
Others noted that the tweets from Trump had racist undertones, as he appears to assume that a black Congressman would represent a poor, troubled district. But this is not true. Lewis’ district is 60.45 percent black, and 88 percent of adults have high school diplomas. Forty-one percent have college degrees. Lewis’ district covers three-fourths of Atlanta.
Here’s other responses to Trump’s attacks:
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi also weighed in:
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer added:
Conservative pundit Bill Kristol compared Trump’s treatment of Lewis to his defense of Vladimir Putin.