Donald Trump has taken a swipe at the legacy of Rep. John Lewis following the death of the civil rights icon.
During a wide-ranging interview with Axios On HBO, the president refused to clarify whether he considered the congressman’s life to be impressive.
“Nobody has done more for black Americans than I have,” Trump claimed.
When asked by Axios reporter Jonathan Swan how history will remember Lewis, the commander-in-chief replied he had never met the congressman, as he had not attended the presidential inauguration.
Pressed further on the topic, Trump repeated his complaint about Lewis’ absence at the inauguration.
“He didn’t come to my inauguration. He didn’t come to my State of the Union speeches. And that’s OK. That’s his right,” Trump said. “He should have come. I think he made a big mistake.”
“I can’t say one way or the other. I find a lot of people impressive. I find many people not impressive.”
However, Trump did add that he would have “no objection to” renaming the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, after Lewis.
Trump made his comments on Tuesday as the congressman lay in state at the Capitol ahead of his funeral on July 30. The pre-recorded interview aired Monday night on HBO.
In 1965, Alabama state troopers beat Lewis in the city of Selma in an event later dubbed “Bloody Sunday.” His plight drew national attention to the struggle for racial equality.
The youngest of the Big Six — a civil rights group led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. — Lewis went on to spend more than three decades in the House of Representatives, where he was sometimes known as “the conscience of Congress.” He died on July 17 at the age of 80 after a battle with pancreatic cancer.
Upon hearing of Lewis’ death, Trump tweeted condolences.
Saddened to hear the news of civil rights hero John Lewis passing. Melania and I send our prayers to he and his family.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 18, 2020
Former President Barack Obama gave the eulogy at Lewis’ funeral, which took place at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. Bill Clinton and George W. Bush also attended.
Lewis had previously said in an interview with NBC that he did not see Trump as a “legitimate president” due to alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
In a 2019 speech covered by CNN, the Democrat slammed Trump for using racist language against four congresswomen of color.
“I know racism when I see it. I know racism when I feel it. And at the highest level of government, there’s no room for racism,” he said.