In his full-throated endorsement of Hillary, Rep. John Lewis, a civil rights legend, lied about “meeting” the Clintons.
At an event Thursday organized by the Congressional Black Caucus, Lewis (D-Georgia) said he “never saw” Bernie Sanders during the civil rights movement in the 1960s, but he did see the Clintons.
“I never saw [Sanders]. I never met him,” Lewis said. “I was chair of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee for three years, from 1963 to 1966. I was involved with the sit-ins, the Freedom Rides, the March on Washington, the march from Selma to Montgomery and directed (the) voter education project for six years. But I met Hillary Clinton. I met President (Bill) Clinton.”
That was a lie.
As John Lewis himself said in a 2001 book about Bill Clinton, he said: “The first time I heard of Bill Clinton was in the early 70s. I was living in Georgia, working for the Southern Poverty Law organization, when someone told me about this young, emerging leader in Arkansas who served as attorney general, then later became governor.”
That was the first time he heard of Bill Clinton. But when was the first time he met him?
“I think I paid more attention to him at the 1988 Democratic Convention, when he was asked to introduce the presidential candidate and took up far more time than was allotted to him. After he became involved with the Democratic Leadership Council, I would run into him from time to time. But it was one of his aides, Rodney Slater, who actually introduced us in 1991 and asked me if I would support his presidency.”
When he was called out on the fact that he never actually met the Clintons until decades after he claimed, Lewis backtracked:
“If you take a look at a transcript of my statement, you will find I did not say that I met Hillary and Bill Clinton when I was chairman of SNCC in the 1960s. My point was that when I was doing the work of civil rights, led the Voter Education Project and organized voter registration in the South in the 1970s, I did cross paths with Hillary and Bill Clinton in the field. They were working in politics, and Bill Clinton became attorney general of Arkansas in the 1970s as well. That began a relationship with them that has lasted until today.”
This of course is also inconsistent with what he said previously – but the facts don’t matter because John Lewis is a civil rights legend and we can’t question him, right?
He also walked back his criticism of Bernie Sanders (who has a long and documented history of being involved in the civil rights movement):
“In the interest of unity, I want to clarify the statement I made at Thursday’s news conference,” Lewis said in a statement from the Congressional Black Caucus PAC, which endorsed Clinton on Thursday. “I was responding to a reporter’s question who asked me to assess Sen. Sanders’ civil rights record. I said that when I was leading and was at the center of pivotal actions within the Civil Rights Movement, I did not meet Sen. Bernie Sanders at any time. The fact that I did not meet him in the movement does not mean I doubted that Sen. Sanders participated in the Civil Rights Movement, neither was I attempting to disparage his activism. Thousands sacrificed in the 1960s whose names we will never know, and I have always given honor to their contribution.”
H/T: DailyKos (yes … the DailyKos!)