Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) says he doesn’t see Donald Trump as a legitimate president, and he will not be attending next week’s inauguration.
In an exclusive interview with NBC News’ Meet the Press, Lewis was asked by Chuck Todd if he would try to forge a relationship with the president-elect.
“I believe in forgiveness; I believe in trying to work with people,” Lewis said. “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 explain his answer, Lewis cited Russian interference in the presidential election.
“I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected, and they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton,” Lewis continued.
“That’s going to send a big message to a lot of people in this country, that you don’t believe he is a legitimate president,” Todd said.
“I think there was a conspiracy on the part of the Russians and others to help him get elected. That’s not right. That’s not fair. That’s not the open Democratic process.,” Lewis responded.
As NBC notes, while Trump seemed to acknowledge this week that Russia did interfere with the election through hacking, he argued that the hacking had no impact on the election’s outcome.
Lewis, who has been a congressman since 1987 and who, as a member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, helped to organize the 1963 March on Washington, also said that he will not attend Trump’s swearing-in on Jan. 20.
“I don’t plan to attend the inauguration. It will be the first one that I’ve missed since I’ve been in Congress,” Lewis said. “You cannot be at home with something that you feel is wrong.”
Read more at NBC News.