Reince Priebus, the incoming White House chief of staff, called on President Obama to tell Democrats to stop trying to delegitimatize the election of President-elect Donald Trump.
“President Obama could step up,” Mr. Priebus said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”
Mr. Priebus said of the latest attack on Mr. Trump’s legitimacy form civil rights hero Rep. John Lewis, Georgia Democrat: “That’s insanity and it’s wrong.”
“The administration can do a lot of good by telling folks that are on their side of the aisle, ‘Look, we many have lost the election on the Democratic side, but it’s time to come together and stop questioning legitimacy,’” he said.
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.
Mr. Priebus stressed that Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper has said that there was no evidence that Russia affected the outcome of the Nov. 8 vote.
Host George Stephanopoulos asked Mr. Priebus how questions about the president-elect’s legitimacy are different from Mr. Trump raising questions about Mr. Obama’s birth certificate and whether he was a natural-born citizen eligible for the presidency.
Mr. Priebus said that questioning Mr. Obama’s birthplace didn’t cast doubt on the legitimacy of the election outcome.
“Here’s the problem. We need folks like John Lewis and others who I think have been champions of voting rights to recognize the fact that Donald Trump was duly elected, is going to put his hand on the Bible in five days,” he said. “I think it is incredibly disappointing and irresponsible for people like himself to questions the legitimacy of the next United States president.”
“Putting the United States down across the world is not something that a responsible person does,” said Mr. Priebus.
Mr. Lewis said in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that was aired Saturday that he would skip the inauguration, making it the first time he will 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!”