NBC / Via nbcnews.com
Civil rights leader and US Rep. John Lewis said Friday he does not see Donald Trump as a legitimate president because of Russian interference with the US election.
Because of that, the Georgia Democrat told Chuck Todd of Meet the Press, he said he won’t be attending Trump’s inauguration on Jan. 20.
“I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected and they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton,” Lewis, a prominent Democrat in congress and a leading figure in the civil rights movement. “I don’t plan to attend the inauguration.”
It will be the first inauguration Lewis doesn’t attend in his 30-year congressional career.
Lewis’ interview on Meet the Press is scheduled to air Sunday morning, but NBC released a preview of the exchange Friday afternoon.
Asked if he would work with the incoming president, Lewis said he believed in forgiveness and working with others but that “it’s going to be hard.”
His comments come after intelligence agencies said Russia was behind the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and Clinton’s campaign chairman during the race as a way to help elect Trump. They also come amid reports that Trump and President Obama were briefed on a 35-page dossier alleging Russia was in contact with Trump’s campaign during the election and that the Kremlin had compiled compromising personal and financial details about the incoming president.
BuzzFeed News published the dossier, and like other news agencies has been unable to verify the details. Trump has denied the allegations made in the dossier and attacked BuzzFeed News at a news conference on Wednesday.
The Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, said in a statement the intelligence agencies have “not made any judgment that the information in this document is reliable.”
Lewis said Russian involvement was why he did not believe Trump was a “legitimate president.”
“I think there was a conspiracy on the part of the Russians and others to help him get elected,” Lewis said. “That’s not right. That’s not fair. That’s not the open democratic process.”
FBI Director James Comey was scheduled to brief members of congress Friday about the 35-page dossier.
A spokeswoman for Lewis told BuzzFeed News the congressman was unable to attend the briefing Friday morning. She declined to answer other questions, such as when Lewis decided not to attend the inauguration.
Trump’s transition team did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Read More: A Congressman Just Said He Doesn’t Think Donald Trump Is A “Legitimate President” via Trending News