President Donald Trump said he never met John Lewis, doesn’t know how history will remember him, and that while Lewis devoted “a lot of energy and heart” to civil rights, “there were many others also.”
“I don’t know John Lewis, he chose not to come to my inauguration,” Trump told Axios’ national political correspondent Jonathan Swan. “I never met John Lewis.”
Trump made the comments at the end of a 35-minute July 28 interview with Axios that was aired Monday on HBO.
Asked if he found Lewis “impressive,” Trump responded: “I find a lot of people impressive, I find a lot of people not impressive … He didn’t come to my inauguration, he didn’t come to my State of the Union speeches, and that’s OK, that’s his right. Again, nobody has done more for Black Americans than I have.”
Trump helped Lewis achieve one of his most sought-after legislative priorities in 2018, signing a bill creating Georgia’s first national historic park at Atlanta’s Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site.
Lewis also boycotted President George W. Bush’s inauguration in 2001 and said he didn’t believe the Texan was the “true elected president” because of the questions raised over results from Florida in the 2000 election.
Five years later, he suggested Bush could be impeached for authorizing spying on American citizens. In 2008, he voted with 250 other House lawmakers to refer 35 articles of impeachment to the House Judiciary Committee. The impeachment did not advance.
But after Bush’s presidency ended the two appeared to patch things up enough to appear at some of the same historic events. Bush and his wife Laura visited Selma, Alabama, in March 2015 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the civil rights march on “Bloody Sunday.”
He was on hand a year later to celebrate the grand opening of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, a project Lewis spent decades promoting and Bush approved while in office. Bush was one of three former presidents who attended Lewis’ funeral last week.