ADL jumps to Rep. Lewis’ defense after Trump tweet

Writer Calvin Trillin, center, interviewing John Lewis in Birmingham, Ala., as the Freedom Riders were boarding the bus for Montgomery in 1961. (LIFE Images Collection)

Marcy Oster

(JTA) — The Anti-Defamation League jumped to the defense of Rep. John Lewis, D-Georgia, after President-elect Donald Trump criticized him on Twitter.

Trump was responding to Lewis’ comments made Saturday on NBC News’ “Meet the Press,” in which he said Trump is not a “legitimate president,” based on reports of Russian interference in the 2016 election.  Lewis also announced that he would not attend Friday’s inauguration, one of the at least 18 Democratic congressmen who have announced their intentions to skip the handover of power.

Lewis said working with the new president “is going to be very difficult.” He added: “I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected. And they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton.”

Trump responded on Twitter later on Saturday in two tweets: “Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to…… mention crime infested) rather than falsely complaining about the election results. All talk, talk, talk – no action or results. Sad!”

Lewis has served as congressman for Georgia’s 5th congressional district since 1987. A recognized civil rights leader, Lewis was beaten by state troopers during the March 7, 1965 march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in from Selma to Montgomery in Alabama. He was arrested more than 40 times for his civil rights work.

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The ADL said in a tweet in response to Trump that:  “everyone at is proud to call an ally; a true hero whose lifelong fight ag deserves respect…”

In a separate tweet, ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt called Lewis his “personal hero.”

Rabbi Jonah Penser, director of Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and senior vice president of the Union for Reform Judaism tweeted “Yeah, I am with him,” in support of Lewis.

Among the congressmen who have said they will not attend the inauguration is Rep.  Jerrold Nadler of New York.

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