John Lewis, one of the leaders of the American Civil Rights movement and the current Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Georgia’s 5th district, has directly questioned the legitimacy of president-elect Donald Trump. In an interview with NBC News‘ Chuck Todd that aired on Friday, Representative Lewis called Trump an “illegitimate president” and said that the only reason he won was because the Russians were involved, CNN reports.
“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.”
John Lewis was elected to Congress in 1986. He told in the interview that Trump’s inauguration ceremony next week will be the first public ceremony that he would not be attending since he moved to Washington.
“You cannot be at home with something that you feel is wrong.”
There have been few democrats who have attacked Trump this directly. Most Hillary aides have been reluctant in passing direct judgement at Trump.
Trump responded harshly to Lewis’s comments. He tweeted the following on Saturday.
“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’s tweets met with a lot of backlash, specially considering that it was the weekend of the Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday, an iconic day commemorating the entire civil rights movement.
Trump’s initial comments had faced a lot of backlash, specially from members and supporters of the Democratic party.
Cornell William Brooks, who serves as the president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), responded to Trump’s remarks with a tweet of his own.
“By disrespecting @repjohnlewis, @realDonaldTrump dishonored Lewis’ sacrifice & demeaned Americans & the rights, he nearly died 4. Apologize.”
House Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi, tweeted the following.
“Ahead of #MLKday2017, let us remember that many have tried to silence @repjohnlewis over the years. All have failed.”
California Senator, Kamala Harris, tweeted this.
“John Lewis is an icon of the Civil Rights Movement who is fearless in the pursuit of justice and equality. He deserves better than this.”
But the democrats weren’t the only ones criticizing Trump. Republican and frequent Trump critic, Senator Ben Sasse, took the opportunity to praise John Lewis, writing “John Lewis and his ‘talk’ have changed the world.”
Republican Congressman Justin Amash took direct aim at the president-elect. He wrote:
“Dude, just stop.”
Later, possibly responding to all the backlashes, Trump used a less offensive tone in another tweet directed at the civil rights icon. He wrote:
“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!”
John Lewis was a close ally of the civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. Along with the Doctor King, James Farmer, A. Philip Randolph, Roy Wilkins and Whitney Young, Lewis constituted what is known as the big six of the civil rights movement. Together they organized the famous march on Washington in 1963 which eventually led to the end of racial segregation in the United States. As part of the same movement, while marching in Selma, Alabama in 1965, Lewis was was brutally beaten by the police.
[Featured Image by Rick Diamond/Getty Images]