Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is one of few Republicans who has been outspoken about the recent flap over Twitter comments President-elect Donald Trump made about Rep. John Lewis (D-GA). Lewis said in an interview on January 13 that he would find it “impossible” to work with Trump, having concluded that he is not a “legitimate president" due to unspecified Russian meddling in the election.

Rand said on CNN’s “State of the Union,” the Lewis’ history in the civil rights movement does not elevate him beyond criticism. Rand said, “I do appreciate him being a civil rights icon, but I would also say that that doesn’t make us immune from criticism or debate.” He added, “None of us actually want to be considered to be the racially insensitive and so it’s a very, very important subject, but I think we shouldn’t ignore that people are partisan,” said Paul. The Kentucky senator once clashed with Trump during the primary races, but ultimately endorsed him.

Paul said, “John Lewis is a partisan. I have a great deal of respect for him, but he’s a partisan and I disagree with him on issues.” “I should be able to honestly disagree with him and not have it all come back to I have no appreciation for a civil rights icon because of this,” Paul said.

Trump has weathered criticism this week especially from Democrats, but also some Republicans. For example, Rep. John Yarmuth (R-KY) tweeted a remark about Trump, writing: “All talk no action. Rep. John Lewis shed blood to secure and protect basic human rights for all. Your ignorance is astounding.” Also, Kansas Republican Congressman Kevin Yoder tweeted, “Disagree with questioning of legitimacy of November election, but Rep. John Lewis is a hero and icon. He deserves all of our respect.”

Democrats were all over it. Democrats, including Lewis, have suggested that alleged Russian meddling in the past election cost Hillary Clinton her anticipated victory, thus putting into question the legitimacy of Trump’s election.

For his part, Trump has called on Lewis to not only address the rising crime in the Atlanta area that he represents, but to also cooperate with the new administration. Trump wrote, "I can use all the help I can get!"

Lewis responded to Trump's tweets by sending out a fundraising email to supporters that proclaimed his work during the 1960s in the civil rights movement. He wrote: "Today Donald Trump attacked me on Twitter. He said that I’m 'all talk” and “no action.' I’ve been beaten bloody, tear-gassed, fighting for what’s right for America. I’ve marched at Selma with Dr. King. Sometimes that’s what it takes to move our country in the right direction."

Yamiche Alcindor, a reporter for the New York Times, tweeted a copy of the email, which noted the levels of donations requested.

 



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Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.

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