Donald Trump tore into civil rights legend John Lewis for questioning the legitimacy of the Republican billionaire’s White House victory, intensifying a feud with the black congressman days before the national holiday honoring Martin Luther King Jr.
Trump tweeted that Lewis, D-Ga, “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.”
The incoming president added: “All talk, talk, talk – no action or results. Sad!”
Lewis, among the most revered leaders of the civil rights movement, suffered a skull fracture during the march in Selma, Alabama, more than a half-century ago and has devoted his life to promoting equal rights for African-Americans.
The weekend clash highlighted the sharp contrast between how many African-American view Trump’s inauguration compared with Barack Obama’s eight years ago.
It also demonstrated that no one is untouchable for scorn from a president-elect with little tolerance for public criticism. Trump has found political success even while attacking widely lauded figures before and after the campaign — a prisoner of war, parents of a slain US soldier, a beauty queen and now a civil rights icon.
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Lewis, a 16-term congressman said on Friday that he would not attend Trump’s swearing-in ceremony at the Capitol this coming Friday. It will mark the first time he skipped an inauguration since joining Congress three decades ago.
“You know, I believe in forgiveness. I believe in trying to work with people. It will be hard. It’s going to be very difficult. I don’t see this president-elect as a legitimate president,” Lewis said in an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press” set to air Sunday.
“I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected. And they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton,” Lewis said.
Lewis’ spokeswoman, Brenda Jones, declined to respond to Trump and said the lawmaker’s “opinion speaks for itself.” “We as a nation do need to know whether a foreign government influenced our election,” she said.