Even after almost four years in office, Donald Trump still has the capability to shock with how small and mean-spirited he can be. He sat down for an interview with Axios’s Jonathan Swan which aired last night and while presumably the president was hoping the conversation would offer him a chance to reshape his reelection narrative amidst flagging poll numbers and rampant disapproval, it ended up being an unmitigated disaster for him.
When he wasn’t rambling incoherently or being directly confronted for his misinformation, Trump was showcasing his cruelty and pettiness. At one point in the interview, he was asked how he thinks history will remember the late Rep. John Lewis, the Civil Rights icon who he refused to pay respects to while Lewis was lying in state in the Capitol and whose funeral he ultimately did not attend.
“I don’t know. I really don’t know. Uh, I don’t know. I don’t know John Lewis,” said Trump, even though a brief glance at a history book would show that John Lewis is already being remembered for his contributions to his country.
“He chose not to come to my inauguration,” the president went on, making it immediately clear that he was not going to praise the deceased hero because of his own personal grudge against the man. “He chose… I never met John Lewis I don’t believe.”
“Do you find him impressive?” asked Swan.
“Uh… I can’t say one way or the other. But I find a lot of people impressive, I find a lot of people not impressive, but no. But I didn’t… He didn’t come to my inauguration. He didn’t come to my State of the Union speeches and that’s okay. That’s his right. And again, nobody has done more for Black Americans than I have,” Trump said, repeating one of his favorite false talking points.
“I understand,” said Swan.
“He should have come. I think he made a big mistake. He should have come,” said Trump, refusing to make the conversation about anyone other than himself.
“But taking your relationship with him out of it, do you find his story impressive? What he’s done for this country?” asked Swan.
“He was a person that devoted a lot of energy and a lot of heart to Civil Rights but there were many others also,” said Trump, seemingly trying to belittle and undermine Lewis’s accomplishments on the absurd grounds that he didn’t fight for Civil Rights solely by himself.
Swan then asked if Trump supports the drive to rename the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama after John Lewis at which point the president finally backed off a bit from his shameful attacks and said would have “no objection to it.”
The exchange is truly remarkable for what it reveals about Donald Trump. Even during an election year where he seems likely to lose unless he makes drastic changes, he is unable to step outside his own ego and project even a shred of statesmanship. Likely, he’s deeply jealous of Lewis and the respect and love this country feels for him. On some deep level, he must know that while history will shine on Lewis it will revile Trump.
.@jonathanvswan: "How do you think history will remember John Lewis?"
— Axios (@axios) August 4, 2020
Twitter users were understandably outraged.
Fuck this guy.
— Mikel Jollett (@Mikel_Jollett) August 4, 2020
It's always about @realDonaldTrump not about an American Patriot who took a beating to make America a stronger nation. His typical selfish answer should not be a surprise to anybody paying attention.
— joe baldacci (@joebaldacci66) August 4, 2020
In all my life, I don't think that I've ever been this ashamed to be an American. I've never really thought about my citizenship. But I am so ashamed of being an American. This is mortifying.
— Efrunè Bonquiqui (@Pugable) August 4, 2020
History will not be kind to you and your family. Just remember that.
— Dawn Anderson (@Dandie00) August 4, 2020
How will history remember John Lewis versus how will history remember Donald Trump? Here’s one metric: three former presidents, of both parties, attended Lewis’s funeral. How many former presidents will attend Trump’s?
— Ruth Marcus (@RuthMarcus) August 4, 2020
Presidementia is a sociopath that should never have been considered for the presidency.
The insanity is on full display in this interview.
There has to be a price to pay for those who enabled this disaster.
— Serenity Now! Social Distancing Pro 2.0 (@BoulderGirl2014) August 4, 2020
Imagine being a small, malignant, scared little "man" so empty inside willing to say that the dude in this picture isn't impressive. Knowing you're about to get smacked in the mouth and calmly standing out front defines impressive. @realDonaldTrump doesn't have it in him. pic.twitter.com/fuIDtk5RGz
— Steve Hooper (@SteveHooper22) August 4, 2020
Poor Trump. He will never have the respect and admiration that John Lewis had. He did nothing for black people. He can't even admit there are some police that are racist like him.
— MSPEGGY (@mspeggy50) August 4, 2020
What an insensitive, petty man. Apparently he holds a grudge if there's no worshiping of the Donald. The lengths he goes to avoid answering a simple question. Smh. John Lewis was a extraordinary example of a human being. His devotion to Civil Rights is one for All Books.
— LTags (@lsatag14) August 4, 2020
Holy shit. That is pathological .
— witchdocter (@LyndeeParis) August 4, 2020
I’ve witnessed more maturity from an elementary-aged child than from this guy. Simple analogy here- “Do you think (MJ,Tom Brady) deserves to be in the Hall of Fame?””I don’t know. They never came to any of my little league games. I don’t know. Maybe.
— Mr. Brown (@MrBrownPC) August 4, 2020
its always about him…we need him out
— Marco Frieri (@Frieri_Marco) August 4, 2020
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