- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 15, 2017

Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin on Sunday called out Rep. John Lewis for saying President-elect Donald Trump would be an illegitimate president and refusing to attend the inauguration.

Mr. Manchin said the remarks from Mr. Jewis were “uncalled for.”

“I’ve got the utmost respect for Congressman Lewis. He’s an icon, if you will, and we all have the most respect for him. I just think that was uncalled for,” the West Virginia Democrat said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

Mr. Manchin said the divisive rhetoric is playing into the hands of the Russian President Vladimir Putin’s bid to undermine confidence in the U.S. electoral process.

“If we’re concerned about the Russians and we know the Russians want to be involved, Putin wants to be involved in altering our process, then he will succeed if he sees this bickering going back and forth. That’s what we have to stop. We’re bigger than this,” he said.

Mr. Manchin has emerged as one of Mr. Trump’s best allies among Senate Democrats. He’s also one of the party’s most vulnerable Senate seats in 2018.

Democratic leaders increasingly have questioned the legitimacy of Mr. Trump, who is set to be sworn in Friday as president, citing evidence that Russian hackers attempted to interfere in the election and unproven allegations that Mr. Trump was involved.

At least 18 House Democrats have refused to attend the inauguration.

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