President Donald Trump said Wednesday that former President Barack Obama’s eulogy at John Lewis’ funeral – which at points was aimed at voting rights and the election – was “terrible,” adding that “It showed his anger there that people don’t see.”
The President – who did not attend the civil rights’ icon’s funeral and in a recent interview bellyached about Lewis skipping his inauguration – cast Obama’s speech in a racist stereotype. But others saw a passionate defense of voting rights while honoring a man who risked his life to earn them.
“I thought it was a terrible speech. It was an angry speech. It showed his anger there that people don’t see. He lost control and he’s been really hit very hard by both sides for that speech. That speech was ridiculous,” Trump said in reaction to last week’s eulogy.
Obama delivered his most forceful address since leaving office last week while delivering the eulogy for Lewis, casting the actions of his successor as corrosive for democracy.
“We may no longer have to guess the number of jelly beans in a jar to cast a ballot, but even as we sit here there are those in power that are doing their darnedest to discourage people from voting,” Obama said, hours after Trump suggested on Twitter that November’s presidential contest be delayed because of the unproven potential for fraud.
During an interview with Axios on HBO that aired Monday, Trump responded, “I can’t say one way or the other,” when asked how he thought history would remember Lewis.
The Georgia Democrat was vocal in his criticism of Trump, saying ahead of his inauguration that he was not a “legitimate president,” prompting Trump to call the congressman “all talk” and “no action.” Lewis, however, reportedly also didn’t attend George W. Bush’s 2001 inauguration, and that didn’t dissuade the 43rd president from honoring Lewis at his funeral.
Again on Wednesday, Trump claimed he has done more for Black people than anyone, save Abraham Lincoln, touting his support for federal criminal justice reform and opportunity zones designed to drive real estate investment in low-income areas.
But his actual record and rhetoric reflects a hurtful history. He has largely declined to address the grief and rage expressed in the wake of George Floyd’s death, privately referred to some African nations as “s***hole countries” and lambasted protests against police brutality led overwhelmingly by black NFL players during the National Anthem.
And he launched his political career by continuously attacking America’s first Black president, perpetuating the baseless racist conspiracy theory that Obama wasn’t born in the US.
CNN’s Kevin Liptak and Chandelis Duster contributed to this report.