President Donald Trump finally commented on the death of Representative John Lewis (D-GA), hours after an announcement about the passing of the lionized civil rights hero, who was among the President’s prominent critics.
In the midst of a wave of bipartisan tributes that streamed late Friday evening and early Saturday remembering the Black Democratic congressman from Georgia who served 17 terms following his election in 1986, Trump fired off a series of vicious tweets on other matters.
The President slammed “Corrupt Joe Biden,” and criticized “lowlife dummy John Bolton” for his tell-all account as former national security adviser. He even tweeted angrily about the recent book of his niece, Mary Trump – but did not utter a word of condolence or praise for Lewis.
Vice President Mike Pence issued his own statement Saturday, saying that in spite of their differences “John Lewis will be rightly remembered as an icon of the civil rights movement, for me he was also a colleague and a friend.”
He added that he would remember Lewis as a man who was “unfailingly kind.”
“I will never forget the privilege of crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge at his side on the 45th anniversary of Bloody Sunday,” Pence said.
The White House also announced late Saturday morning that its flags would be lowered to half-staff — a move to honor the late Georgia lawmaker that amounted to just about “half a day,” Washington Post White House Bureau Chief Philip Rucker said in a tweet, since the order was issued after 11 a.m.
Just in: Trump has ordered the U.S. flag to be flown at half-staff at the Whtie House and all federal buildings in honor of John Lewis…. for one day. Really, for half a day, since the order came out just past 11 a.m. The president’s proclamation expires tonight.
— Philip Rucker (@PhilipRucker) July 18, 2020
Lewis boycotted the President’s inauguration in January 2017, citing concerns of the legitimacy of Trump’s election amid questions of foreign meddling.
Trump responded at that time by criticizing Lewis, tweeting that instead of announcing his absence from the President’s inauguration 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!”
The President finally managed to muster his condolences Saturday afternoon, saying in a tweet after 2 p.m., that he was “saddened” and sends “prayers.”
Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden, lauded Lewis as a “moral compass,” in a statement issued Saturday morning.
“He absorbed the force of human nature’s cruelty during the course of his life,” Biden wrote, “and the only thing that could finally stop him was cancer.”
In a nod to recent protests, Biden added that “peaceful marchers for racial and economic justice around the world who are asking where we go from here” should follow Lewis’ lead. A veteran of nonviolent protest, Lewis was the only remaining survivor of the Big Six civil rights activists who organized the 1963 March on Washington.
Lewis had endorsed Biden’s 2020 bid for president in April.