Trump Swipes at Late Civil Rights Icon John Lewis: 'I Really Don't Know' How History Will Remember Him

"He should have come [to my inauguration]," Trump said of Lewis. "I think he made a big mistake"

President Donald Trump said this week he didn't have an opinion on the legacy of the late Rep. John Lewis, an icon of the civil rights movement who was open in his criticism of Trump.

But the president did have this to say: Lewis should have attended his 2017 inauguration.

"He didn’t come to my inauguration, he didn’t come to my State of the Union speeches and that’s okay, that’s his right," Trump, 74, said in a Monday interview with Axios on HBO. "And, again, nobody has done more for black American than I have."

"He should have come," Trump said of Lewis. "I think he made a big mistake."

Asked how he thought history would remember Lewis, the president told Axios' Jonathan Swan: "I don’t know, I really don’t know. I don’t know John Lewis ... I never met John Lewis, actually, I don’t believe."

Asked about whether he found Lewis impressive, Trump visibly paused.

"Uh — I can’t say one way or the other," he replied. "I find a lot of people impressive, I find many people not impressive."

John Lewis
Georgia Rep. John Lewis. Getty Images
David A. Grogan/CNBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty;Teresa Kroeger/WireImage
President Donald Trump (left) and Rep. John Lewis. David A. Grogan/CNBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty;Teresa Kroeger/WireImage

He later said, "[Lewis] was a person that devoted a lot of energy and a lot of heart to civil rights, but there were many others also."

Elsewhere in his Axios interview, Trump spoke more warmly of Ghislaine Maxwell, an associate of Jeffrey Epstein who has been accused of sex trafficking, which she denies. "I wish her well. I’d wish you well, I’d wish a lot of people well," Trump said of Maxwell. "Good luck, Let them prove somebody was guilty."

Trump and Lewis had a notably contentious relationship before Lewis' death last month, less than a year after being diagnosis with cancer.

Lewis previously said he didn't think Trump was a "legitimate president," leading Trump to savage Lewis' congressional district, which includes much of Atlanta, as "crime infested."

Trump did not attend Lewis' memorial events in Washington, D.C., where his body was lying in state at the Capitol.

Trump also was not in attendance at Lewis' funeral in Atlanta last week, where three former presidents spoke: George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

"John Lewis believed in the Lord, he believed in humanity and he believed in America," Bush said of Lewis.

"He’s been called an American saint, a believer willing to give up everything — even life itself — to bear witness to the truth that drove him all his life," Bush said, "that we could build a world of peace and justice, harmony and dignity and love."

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