Saturday, January 14, 2017

Trump Scolds Civil Rights Icon Lewis, Days Before MLK Holiday

Days before the U.S. holiday honoring Martin Luther King Jr., Donald Trump has attacked U.S. Representative John Lewis after the civil rights legend said he didn’t consider Trump a “legitimate president” because of what he believed were Russia’s attempts to help Trump win the presidency.

In a couple of tweets Saturday morning, Trump said instead of criticizing him, the Georgia lawmaker should concentrate on serving his constituents.

In an interview Friday with NBC’s Meet the Press that will be televised Sunday, Lewis said, “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 added, “I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected.”

Lewis spokeswoman Linda Jones declined to respond to Trump’s attack but said, “We, as a nation, do need to know whether a foreign government influenced our election.”

Trump’s tweets have provoked sharp responses from numerous Democrats, including Nancy Pelosi of California. The House minority leader tweeted Saturday that previous attempts by critics to deter the lawmaker were unsuccessful.

U.S. intelligence agencies concluded recently that Russia sought to influence the presidential election in Trump’s favor. The president-elect himself accepted that the Russians were responsible for hacking into Democratic computer networks. Trump has maintained, however, that “there was absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election, including the fact that there was no tampering whatsoever with voting machines.”

Lewis’ 5th Congressional District in Georgia includes the Atlanta metropolitan area. The region has a large African-American population and is one of the fastest growing in the U.S. Crime and poverty rates are above national averages, but the area also has upscale communities and is home to one of the nation’s most significant technology hubs, as well as Fortune 500 companies like Coca-Cola and Delta Airlines.

Lewis was one of the leading organizers of the 1963 March on Washington, at which civil rights leader King delivered his famous “I Have a Dream Speech” before more than 200,000 people.

Two years later, Lewis had his skull fractured during “Bloody Sunday,” a peaceful civil rights protest in Selma, Alabama, that turned violent when state police brutally assaulted the marchers.

Televised images of the assaults shocked millions of Americans and galvanized Congress to approve the Voting Rights Act, which helped African-Americans overcome legal barriers to the right to vote.

Lewis has joined a group of House Democrats who have decided not to attend Trump’s inauguration next week.

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