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Rep. John Lewis: 'I Don't See Trump as a Legitimate President'

by Chuck Todd, Sally Bronston and Matt Rivera /  / Updated 
Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., center, flanked by Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., left, and Congressional Black Caucus Chair Rep. Cedric Richmond of La., testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2017, at the second day of a confirmation hearing for Attorney General-designate, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., before the Senate Judiciary Committee.Cliff Owen / AP

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In an exclusive interview with NBC News' "Meet the Press," Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., said he does not believe Donald Trump is a "legitimate president," citing Russian interference in last year’s election.

Asked whether he would try to forge a relationship with the president-elect, Lewis said that he believes in forgiveness, but added, "it's going to be very difficult. I don't see this president-elect as a legitimate president."

When pressed to explain why, he cited allegations of Russian hacks during the campaign that led to the release of internal documents from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign co-chairman, John Podesta.

“I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected. And they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton,” Lewis told NBC News.

Trump appeared to acknowledge this week that Russia did engage in hacking during the campaign, but he has vigorously argued that any foreign interference had no impact on the election’s outcome.

Trump fired back at Lewis questioning his legitimacy as the incoming president in a pair of tweets Saturday morning, saying that the long-serving Georgia Congressman 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."

Lewis, also a recognized civil rights leader, represents a district that covers most of metropolitan Atlanta as well as historically black schools, including Morehouse College and Spelman College.

Lewis told NBC News that he does not plan on attending President-elect Trump’s swearing-in next Friday.

"It will be the first one that I miss since I've been in Congress," he said. "You cannot be at home with something that you feel that is wrong, is not right."

For more, tune into “Meet the Press” on Sunday morning.

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