Atlanta hits back after Trump’s attack on Lewis

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Trump speaks during a press conference in Trump Tower on Jan. 11, 2017. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)
Trump speaks at a press conference in Trump Tower on Jan. 11, 2017. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

Residents of Rep. John Lewis’ Georgia congressional district are firing back over Donald Trump’s assertion that it is “crime-infested.” Meanwhile, the incoming White House chief of staff defended the president-elect’s attack on Lewis, which came after the civil rights leader questioned the legitimacy of Trump’s presidency.

“Atlanta to Trump: Wrong” blared the front-page headline published by the Atlanta Journal- Constitution on Sunday, a day after Trump tweeted that 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.”

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The paper pointed out that overall, crime is down in Atlanta, which ranked 14th in the nation for its rate of violent crime in 2015, according to statistics compiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The cover of the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Jan. 15, 2017. (AJC)
The cover of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Jan. 15, 2017. (AJC)

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed was sharply critical of Trump’s attack on Lewis.

“John Lewis is an American hero & a national treasure. Period. Full stop,” Reed tweeted. “That PEOTUS Trump would attack Congressman Lewis on MLK Day weekend for ‘all talk … no action’ when he bled to actually ‘Make America Great’ is why far less than half the country supports him at the dawn of his presidency.”

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In an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press” last week, Lewis said that the Russian government’s apparent interference with the U.S. election delegitimizes Trump’s victory.

“It’s going to be very difficult,” Lewis, who is boycotting Trump’s inauguration, told moderator Chuck Todd. “I don’t see this president-elect as a legitimate president.”

Reince Priebus, Trump’s incoming chief of staff, called Lewis’ comments “insane” and “wrong.”

“We need folks like John Lewis, and others, who I think have been champions of voter rights, to actually recognize the fact that Donald Trump was duly elected,” Priebus said on ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos” on Sunday. “He’s going to put his hand on the Bible in five days. And I think it’s incredibly disappointing, and I think it’s irresponsible, for people like himself to question the legitimacy of the next United States president. I think putting the United States down across the world is not something that a responsible person does.”

But President Obama’s chief of staff, Denis McDonough, told CNN’s “State of the Union” that he hopes that Trump is ready not only to reach out to Lewis “but pursue some of the policies that Mr. Lewis has literally fought, bled and gone to jail for over the course of his remarkable life.”

“That would be the kind of thing that would not only send a message to the American people that we’re prepared to work together, but would also send a message to the Russians that we are united,” McDonough said. “Their efforts to divide us, to weaken us, to advance their own interests, at the expense of ours, are going to fail.”

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Trump’s tweeted assault on Lewis has sent book sales of the civil rights leader’s memoir soaring.

According to the Chicago Tribune, “Walking With the Wind,” Lewis’ 1998 memoir, sold out on Amazon.com in the wake of Trump’s attack. Sales of “March,” a graphic novel trilogy of Lewis’ life, have also risen dramatically. And “five of the six books that have gained the most sales in the last 24 hours on Amazon are by Lewis,” the Hollywood Reporter said.

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