Democratic Rep. John Lewis (Ga.) offered strong criticism of President-elect Donald Trump in a recent interview, saying he doesn't believe Trump is a "legitimate" president and that he has no plans to attend Trump's inauguration next Friday.
In a pre-taped interview with NBC's "Meet the Press" set to air Sunday, Lewis said he absolutely believes in forgiveness, but that he'll find it "very difficult" to reconcile his differences with Trump because he doesn't view the president-elect as "legitimately" elected.
"I believe in forgiveness. I believe in trying to work with people,” Lewis told host Chuck Todd. "It’s going to be hard. It's going to be very difficult. I don't see this president-elect as a legitimate president."
When pressed by Todd to add more context to his comments, Lewis cited the ongoing investigation into allegations that Russian state hackers intentionally attempted to manipulate last year's presidential election to aid Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton.
"I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected," Lewis said, "and they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton."
It is now widely accepted, even by Trump's team, that Russian state hackers did indeed attempt to influence the outcome of the election. And while Democrats like Lewis continue to allege that Russian hackers did manipulate the election outcome, Trump and many Republicans have said that the hacking did not have any influence on Trump's win and Clinton's loss.
Therefore, Lewis said that he will not be attending Trump's inauguration on Friday, explaining that it will be the first presidential inauguration he's missed since being elected to Congress in 1986.
"I don't plan to attend the inauguration. It will be the first one that I miss since I’ve been in Congress," Lewis explained. "You cannot be at home with something that you feel that is wrong, is not right."
Trump, unsurprisingly, did not take too kindly to Lewis' comments. The president-elect responded early Saturday the best way he knows how — via Twitter.
Trump wrote that Lewis, instead of "complaining" about the election results, should "spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart."
Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to......— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1484398226.0
mention crime infested) rather than falsely complaining about the election results. All talk, talk, talk - no action or results. Sad!— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1484399232.0
However, Trump's blunt criticism of Lewis is not likely to go over well. In addition to being a longtime and well respected congressman, Lewis was a key figure in the 1960s civil rights movement. He was one of the youngest and most outspoken figures of the movement who was frequently beaten and jailed. He also worked closely with Martin Luther King Jr.
Still, Lewis won't be the only congressman to skip Trump's inauguration. So far, five others have publicly vowed to not attend. They include: Reps. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.) and Jared Huffman (D-Calif.).