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Donald Trump criticized for sustained silence after death of John Lewis

President Trump faced criticism Saturday for his delayed and ultimately terse reaction to the death of John Lewis, a longtime U.S. congressman and legendary civil rights advocate.

Mr. Lewis died late Friday evening at the age of 80, and news reports about his passing broke shortly before midnight amid a flurry of tributes honoring the late Georgia Democrat.

Mr. Trump did not personally address the congressman’s death until shortly following 2 p.m. Saturday on Twitter, more than 14 hours after it was first reported as breaking news.

“Saddened to hear the news of civil rights hero John Lewis passing. Melania and I send our prayers to he and his family,” Mr. Trump said when he eventually tweeted about it.

During the span between the lawmaker’s death first being reported and Mr. Trump reacting, the president shared more than two dozen posts on Twitter and golfed at his club in Virginia.

Mr. Trump’s critics took notice in the interim on Twitter, calling out his reticence on the president’s preferred social media platform.

“Trump’s silence about John Lewis is the truth about what he feels about the loss of John Lewis. Nothing,” MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell quipped on Twitter. “I prefer the truth of Trump’s silence to lies of Trump staff in any White House statement written for Trump while he plays golf.”

“There’s never a bottom,” former Republican strategist-turned-staunch Trump critic Rick Wilson said on Twitter early Saturday about the president’s lack of response at that point.

Joe Lockhart, a media personality who previously served as a press secretary to former President Bill Clinton, alleged Mr. Trump was staying silent as an act of selfishness, meanwhile, calling it a “remarkable, and disgusting, trait.”

“Donald Trump’s silence is fitting,” echoed actress and activist Mia Farrow. “He is not worthy to utter the name of John Lewis- a man who embodied courage, honor, decency, sacrifice, and the long march toward justice and equality for all.”

Mr. Lewis, a civil rights advocate since the 1960s, represented Georgia in the U.S. House of Representatives for more than three decades up until his death of pancreatic cancer.

He notably boycotted Mr. Trump’s inauguration because he said he did not believe he was a “legitimate president” on account of Russians meddling in the 2016 U.S. election. 

Mr. Trump lashed out at him at the time and accused him of “falsely complaining” about the results of the race. Some lawmakers subsequently urged the president Saturday to hold his tongue.

“Please don’t comment on the life of Congressman Lewis. Your press secretary released a statement, leave it at that,” Rep. Karen Bass, California Democrat and chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, tweeted Saturday. “Please let us mourn in peace.”

In the statement, released late Saturday morning, the White House ordered flags flown at half-staff to respect the memory of Mr. Lewis and his “longstanding public service.”

Vice President Mike Pence issued a separate statement early Saturday that recognized Mr. Lewis for his “selflessness and conviction rendered our nation into a more perfect union.”

“While John Lewis will be rightly remembered as an icon of the civil rights movement, for me he was also a colleague and a friend,” wrote Mr. Pence, who served in the U.S. House from 2001 to 2013.

Beyond his earlier tweet, Mr. Trump had yet to comment further about the congressman as of early Saturday evening.

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Source: www.washingtontimes.com stories: Politics

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