Rep. John Lewis, the Georgia Democrat and civil rights icon, says he does not see Donald Trump as a legitimate president.
“I believe in forgiveness. I believe in trying to work with people,” Lewis told NBC’s Chuck Todd in a segment set to air Sunday on “Meet the Press.” “It’s going to be hard. It’s going to be very difficult. I don’t see this president-elect as a legitimate president.”
Lewis argued that the suspected efforts of Russian hackers to tilt the election in Trump’s favor are evidence of “a conspiracy on the part of the Russians and others to help him get elected.”
“I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected,” Lewis said when asked why he does not believe Trump to be legitimate. “And they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton.”
According to U.S. intelligence officials, Russian hackers waged cyberattacks on top Democratic Party officials during the campaign in an attempt to disrupt the election. As a result of the hacks, thousands of internal emails from the Democratic National Committee and Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, were published on the website WikiLeaks, repeatedly embarrassing the campaign.
“It’s not right, that’s not fair,” Lewis said of the hacking. “It’s not the open, democratic process.”
As Todd told Lewis in the segment, the congressman’s statement is sure to “send a big message to a lot of people in this country.” Lewis is widely admired among Democrats, and many liberals remain despondent about Clinton’s upset loss to Trump. As Trump’s critics refuse to come around to him, his approval ratings remain very low.
Thousands of people are expected to protest Trump’s inauguration next Friday. Lewis, for his part, said he will not be attending the ceremony: “It will be the first one that I miss since I’ve been in Congress,” he said. “You cannot be at home with something that you feel that is wrong, is not right.”