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Trump reflects on John Lewis' legacy in a decidedly Trumpian way

Donald Trump only cares about people as they relate to Donald Trump - and John Lewis left Trump feeling personally snubbed.
Image: Congressman John Lewis
Congressman John Lewis, D-Ga, sits in his office in the Canon House office building on March 17, 2009.Jeff Hutchens / Getty Images file

Early last week, as the late Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) was honored at the Capitol by having his casket lie in state, a reporter asked Donald Trump if he planned to pay his respects.

"No, I won't be going," the president replied. He quickly added, "No."

Trump isn't generally known for delivering short and direct answers, but in this case, the president did not elaborate, choosing instead to move on to the next question.

All things considered, that was probably wise. If Trump had gone into more detail, he would have inevitably said something offensive, insulting, or both.

The next day, as Lewis continued to lie in state, the president sat down with Axios' Jonathan Swan -- an interview that aired last night on HBO -- who sought more detail on Trump's perspective on the late American hero. It didn't go well.

President Trump dismissed the legacy of the late Rep. John Lewis in an interview with "Axios on HBO," saying only that Lewis made a "big mistake" by not coming to his inauguration.... Trump's comments were a glaring contrast with the praise Republicans and Democrats showered upon Lewis this week, and a default to personal grudges during a week of mourning for a civil rights hero.

Swan specifically asked how history will remember the late congressman. Trump said, "I don't know. I really don't know. Uh, I don't know. I don't know John Lewis. He chose not to come to my inauguration. I never met John Lewis, actually, I don't believe."

Asked if he found Lewis' life impressive, the president added, "He didn't come to my inauguration. He didn't come to my State of the Union speeches. And that's OK. That's his right.... He should have come. I think he made a big mistake."

Trump went on to say that Lewis fought for civil rights, but "there were many others, also" -- which appeared to be the Republican's way of diminishing Lewis' efforts one last time.

To be sure, none of this was especially surprising, but it was a timely reminder of the lens through which he sees the world: Donald Trump only cares about people as they relate to Donald Trump. John Lewis may have devoted his life to making the United States a fairer and more just nation, and he may have devoted more than six decades to public service, but what the president cares about -- what he finds truly important -- is that the Georgia Democrat didn't come to some of Trump's speeches.

As Lewis laid in state, it's what led the president to reflect on the hero's legacy, and conclude that Lewis had "made a big mistake" by snubbing him.

In some instances, Trump's narcissism is more painful than others.