Donald Trump refused to praise the late John Lewis, the Georgia congressman and original Freedom Rider, during his latest one-on-one interview, and also questioned the value of the pivotal Civil Rights Act of the 1960s, which Lewis fought and almost died for.
When asked how history would remember the civil rights leader, the president replied, “I don’t know. I really don’t know” and brought the point back around to himself.
“I never met John Lewis, I don’t believe,” Trump said.
In the interview, released late on Monday, with the Axios reporter Jonathan Swan, Trump instead centered his view of the late congressman on their lack of a personal relationship, noting Lewis “chose not to come to [his] inauguration”.
“He didn’t come to my State of the Union speeches, and that’s OK,” he said. “That’s his right. He should’ve come. I think he made a big mistake.”
The interview was conducted as the Georgia congressman lay in state in the Capitol rotunda. Trump did not pay his respects while Lewis’s casket was in Washington, nor attend Lewis’s funeral in Atlanta last week, at which Barack Obama delivered a soaring eulogy that was personally poignant but also a barnstorming political attack on the Trump administration’s efforts at voter and protest suppression.