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John Lewis Captures Spotlight After Calling Trump Illegitimate

Rep. John Lewis might be in his 16th term in Congress, but the civil rights hero still knows how to capture the spotlight.

After Lewis told NBC News that he didn't believe Donald Trump was a legitimate president — and after Trump fired back on Saturday morning that Lewis was "all talk" — the Georgia congressman has soared in popularity.

John Lewis calls Trump an illegitimate president 7:31

Lewis, a Freedom Rider who was brutally beaten five decades ago by Alabama state troopers while marching for voting rights, chronicled his life in the civil rights movement in "March," a three-volume graphic novel published last year that shot to number one on Amazon's best seller list over the weekend, The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported.

By Sunday afternoon, "March," which won the National Book Award for young people's literature last year, was still holding steady at Amazon's top slot. Lewis' memoir, "Walking With the Wind," published in 2015, ranked at number three on the list.

Lewis, 76, dominated on Twitter as well, earning 60,000 new followers and 1.5 million mentions in 48 hours, Twitter spokesman Nick Pacilio said.

At one point on Saturday, 3,000 tweets mentioning Lewis were sent in one minute, Pacilio added.

Lewis, who said Russian interference in the election was behind his comments on Trump, will be joined by more than 20 Democratic lawmakers in a boycott of the incoming president's inauguration on Friday.

Trump continued his criticism of Lewis on Saturday night, writing on Twitter that the congressman "should finally focus on the burning and crime infested inner-cities of the U.S. I can use all the help I can get!" Some residents of Lewis' district pushed back at the president-elect's characterization.

On Sunday, Trump's chief of staff Reince Priebus acknowledged on "Meet the Press" that Lewis was a civil rights icon, but Priebus called the congressman's comments "irresponsible" and pleaded with Obama to intervene.

"It's wrong how some of these Democrats are treating President-elect Trump," he said.