WASHINGTON — Civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis says he doesn’t see President-elect Donald Trump as a “legitimate” commander in chief following Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
“I don’t see this President-elect as a legitimate president,” Lewis, a Georgia Democrat, told NBC News’ Chuck Todd in a clip released Friday. “I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected. And they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton.”
Lewis is an elder statesman in the party, especially among older black voters who know him from his time leading the “Bloody Sunday” march protesting segregation in Alabama in 1965. Lewis was eventually elected to Congress in 1986.
Lewis also said he planned to skip Trump’s inauguration next week, which he said would be the first ceremony he would not attend since coming to Washington.
“You cannot be at home with something that you feel that is wrong,” Lewis said.
Clinton’s former aides have been reluctant to use similar language, avoiding passing judgment on whether Trump was “legitimate.” Few Democrats have gone as far as Lewis has in disputing the election’s legitimacy.
Asked on “The Lead” by CNN’s Jake Tapper if Trump was a legitimate president, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia said “absolutely.”
“We’ve got to move on,” Manchin said. “We’ve got to come together as a country.”
The intelligence community has argued in an official report that the Russians, at the direction of President Vladimir Putin, sought to influence the campaign and boost Trump, a conclusion that Trump has vehemently disputed.