Congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis leveled the most damning accusation one could at an incoming president: illegitimacy.
The Georgia Democrat was asked if he would be able to forge a relationship with President-Elect Donald Trump, as he allegedly had with previous presidents in both parties.
“I believe in forgiveness. I believe in trying to work with people. It’s going to be hard,” he said. “I don’t see the president-elect as a legitimate president.”
Chuck Todd, the Meet The Press Host who was interviewing him, asked him to repeat the allegation:
“I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected,” he added, also calling it a “conspiracy.” “They helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton.”
Lewis said he was not going to attend Trump’s inauguration – the first one he’s skipping since his election to the House in 1986. “You cannot be at home with something that you feel is wrong,” he said.
Most recently, Lewis, who was severely beaten during the 1965 Selma Voting Rights march, testified against fellow Alabaman Jeff Sessions during his Attorney General confirmation hearings. This despite a very cordial relationship, including walking with him at a 50th anniversary commemoration of the same march.
“There is no doubt the Russians were involved in hacking, they were responsible for the hacking,” Manchin said. “But there is no credible evidence showing that that intervened and had one iota to do with the outcome of the election.”
Manchin cited Trump’s overwhelming victory in his home state of West Virginia as an example of how the president-elect won before calling for national unity.
“Donald Trump won West Virginia by over 42 percent,” Manchin said. “I can assure you the Russians had nothing to do with him winning by 42.”
“Now, with that being said, we’ve got to move on,” Manchin continued. “We’ve got to come together as a country.”
The Daily Mail is reporting that Lewis’ assertion – the first from a sitting member of Congress – might be seen as an “indication of feeling within the party, an could lead to others breaking ranks to say the same thing.”
Unlike other prominent figures who have questioned his legitimacy, Trump has not responded to Lewis’ attack – yet.
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CNBC: John Lewis: ‘I Don’t See Trump as a Legitimate President’
Los Angeles Times: Rep. John Lewis: Russia election ‘conspiracy’ makes Donald Trump’s presidency illegitimate
The Hill: Rep. John Lewis: Trump isn’t a ‘legitimate president’