- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 15, 2017

White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough said Sunday that President-elect Donald Trump should be reaching out to Rep. John Lewis as a show of unity for Americans and as a message to Russians.

Mr. Trump lashed out at Mr. Lewis on Twitter after the civil rights icon questioned the legitimacy of the incoming administration because of Russian email hacking to influence the election.

“My hope would be that the president-elect will reach out to someone as consequential and who is such as leader as John Lewis — who has done so much in the course of his life — to try to work this out,” Mr. McDonough said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

He said that Mr. Obama believes that Mr. Trump was elected legitimately. He noted that the president said as much in his final speech in office Tuesday, referring to Mr. Trump as “the freely elected president of the United States.”

However, Mr. McDonough said allegations of Russian hacking and potential complicity by Mr. Trump “are by no means trivial concerns.”

Mr. McDonough said that Mr. Trump hopefully would not just reach out to Mr. Lewis but pursue the policies the Georgia Democrat “has literally fought, bled and gone to jail for in his remarkable life.”

“That would be the kind of thing that would send a message to the American people that we are prepared to work together but would also send a message to the Russians that we are united, their efforts to divide us, to weaken us, advance their own interest at the expense of ours are going to fail,” the White House chief of staff said.

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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