- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 15, 2017

Sen. Rand Paul said Sunday that Rep. John Lewis‘ status as a civil rights hero doesn’t make him immune to criticism.

“I do appreciate him being a civil rights icon, but I would also say that that doesn’t make us immune from criticism or debate,” the Kentucky Republican said on “CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Mr. Lewis took center stage this weekend in the Democratic attack on the legitimacy of President-elect Donald Trump, saying that he believes Russian email hacking during the campaign helped Mr. Trump win.

Mr. Trump fired back on Twitter, saying the Georgia Democrat should focus on helping his Atlanta district and hurting inner cities. The tweets prompted Democrats to launch fresh accusations of racism.

“None of us actually want to be considered to be the racially insensitive and so it’s a very, very important subject, but I think we shouldn’t ignore that people are partisan,” said Mr. Paul, who as a GOP presidential candidate clashed with Mr. Trump but later endorsed him as the party’s nominee.

John Lewis is a partisan. I have a great deal of respect for him, but he’s a partisan and I disagree with him on issues,” he said. “I should be able to honestly disagree with him and not have it all come back to I have no appreciation for a civil rights icon because of this.”

In an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that aired Saturday, Mr. Lewis said he would skip the inauguration, making it the first time he miss a swearing-in of the president since being elected to Congress in 1986.

“I don’t see this president-elect as a legitimate president,” Mr. Lewis said “I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected and they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton.”

Mr. Trump fired back at Mr. Lewis in a series of Twitter posts, saying the congressman should focus on problems in his Atlanta district. He tweeted: “All talk, talk, talk — no action or results. Sad!”

Mr. Trump later tweeted: “Congressman John Lewis should finally focus on the burning and crime infested inner-cities of the U.S. I can use all the help I can get!”

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