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‘Exceptional’ civil rights icon John Lewis remembered at Atlanta funeral

John Lewis was celebrated as an American hero during his funeral Thursday as former President Barack Obama and others called on people to follow Lewis’ example and fight injustice.

Three former U.S. presidents joined in the eulogies after nearly a week of mourning that took Lewis from his birthplace in Alabama to the nation’s capital of Washington to his final resting place in his home of Atlanta.

“I’ve come here today because I, like so many Americans, owe a great debt to John Lewis and his forceful vision of freedom,” former president Barack Obama said.

Lewis died July 17 at age 80.

The arc of Lewis’s legacy of activism will once again be tied to Ebenezer’s former pastor Martin Luther King Jr., whose sermons Lewis discovered while scanning the radio dial as a 15-year-old boy growing up in then-segregated Alabama.

King continued to inspire Lewis’s civil rights work for the next 65 years as he fought segregation during sometimes bloody marches, Greyhound bus “Freedom Rides” across the South and later during his long tenure in the United States Congress.

WATCH | Scenes from the Lewis funeral:

Jennifer Holliday touches mourners with ‘Only What You Do for Christ Will Last’ as former U.S. congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis is laid to rest. 0:50

“The life of John Lewis was in so many ways, exceptional,” said Obama. “He vindicated the faith in our founding and redeemed that faith.”

“America was built by John Lewises,” he said.

Obama then drew a thread from Lewis’s activism over the right of Blacks to vote to what he characterized as current efforts to suppress the vote.

“There are those in power that are doing their darnedest to discourage people from voting, closing polling places, attacking our voting rights with surgical precision, even undermining the postal service in an election that’s going to depend on mail-in ballots,” the 44th president said to thunderous applause.


Former President Barack Obama delivers a eulogy for John Lewis during the services at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. (Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

Former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton spoke before Obama.

“He always believed in preaching the gospel in word and in deed, insisting that hate and fear had to be answered with love and hope,” said Bush.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, senators Kamala Harris and Cory Booker, and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms were among those in attendance.

Pelosi, her voice breaking at times, recalled a poignant moment when Lewis’s body was lying in state at the U.S. Capitol earlier this week.

“There was this double rainbow over the casket,” she said. “He was telling us, ‘I’m home in heaven, I’m home in heaven.’ We always knew he worked on the side of angels, and now he is with them.”

One of King’s daughters, the Rev. Bernice King, led the congregation in prayer: “We will continue to get into good trouble as long as you grant us the breath to do so,” she said.

Outside Ebenezer, hundreds gathered to watch the service on a large screen outside the church. Some sang the gospel song We Shall Overcome.


Mourners stand outside Ebenezer Baptist Church during the funeral for Rep. John Lewis on Thursday in Atlanta. (Brynn Anderson/The Associated PRess)

“Here lies a true American patriot who risked his life for the hope and promise of democracy,” Ebenezer’s senior pastor, the Rev. Raphael Warnock, told the congregation as the funeral began.

When Lewis was 15, he heard King’s sermons on WRMA, a radio station in Montgomery, Ala., he recalled in an interview for the Southern Oral History Program.

“Later I saw him on many occasions in Nashville while I was in school between 1958 and ’61,” Lewis said. “In a sense, he was my leader.”

King was “the person who, more than any other, continued to influence my life, who made me who I was,” Lewis wrote in his 1998 autobiography, Walking with the Wind.

By the summer of 1963, Lewis was addressing thousands of people during the March on Washington, speaking shortly before King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech. He spoke then about Black people beaten by police and jailed — themes that resonate vividly in today’s times.

“My friends, let us not forget that we are involved in a serious social revolution,” Lewis told the huge crowd on the Washington Mall.

“To those who have said, ‘Be patient and wait,’ we have long said that we cannot be patient,” he said. “We do not want our freedom gradually, but we want to be free now! We are tired. We are tired of being beaten by policemen. We are tired of seeing our people locked up in jail over and over again.”

In 1965, Lewis was beaten by Alabama state troopers in the city of Selma in what became known as Bloody Sunday.

Lewis op-ed published today in New York Times

Last Sunday, his casket was carried across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma. The wagon rolled over a carpet of rose petals on the bridge that spans the Alabama River.

On the south side of the bridge, where Lewis was attacked by the officers, family members placed red roses that the carriage rolled over, marking the spot where Lewis spilled his blood and suffered a head injury.


Martin Luther King III is seen Wednesday at the state capitol in Atlanta, where Lewis lay in repose. (Brynn Anderson/The Associated Press)

Lewis was later awarded the Medal of Freedom by the nation’s first Black president in 2011.

He spent more than three decades in Congress, and his district included most of Atlanta.

Lewis was a member of Ebenezer, and “it was my honour to serve as pastor to John Lewis, a man of faith and a true American patriot who selflessly risked life and limb in the sacred cause of truth-telling and justice-making in the world,” Warnock said in a statement before the funeral.

“He was wounded for America’s transgressions, crushed for our iniquities and by his bruises we are healed,” Warnock went on. “Today we weep. Tomorrow we continue the work of healing that was his life’s work.”

WATCH | The life and legacy of John Lewis:

U.S. Rep. John Lewis was the last survivor of the Big Six civil rights activists who organized the 1963 March on Washington. 7:17

Shortly before he died, Lewis wrote an essay for The New York Times and asked that it be published on the day of his funeral. In the piece published Thursday, Lewis recalled the teachings of King:

“He said we are all complicit when we tolerate injustice,” Lewis wrote. “He said it is not enough to say it will get better by and by. He said each of us has a moral obligation to stand up, speak up and speak out.”

“Though I may not be here with you, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe,” he wrote.

“In my life I have done all I can to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love and nonviolence is the more excellent way. Now it is your turn to let freedom ring.”

“He was here on a mission bigger than personal ambition,” Clinton told the congregants, referencing the Times essay in his remarks: “It is so fitting on the day of his service, he leaves us his marching orders: Keep moving.”

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John Lewis, late U.S. civil rights icon, hailed as ‘conscience’ of Congress by fellow lawmakers

In a solemn display of bipartisan unity, congressional leaders praised the late Democratic Rep. John Lewis as a moral force for the nation on Monday in a Capitol Rotunda ceremony rich with symbolism and punctuated by the booming, recorded voice of the late civil rights icon.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Lewis the “conscience of the Congress” who was “revered and beloved on both sides of the aisle, on both sides of the Capitol.” Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell praised the longtime Georgia congressman as a model of courage and a “peacemaker.”

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice,” McConnell, a Republican, said, quoting Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. “But that is never automatic. History only bent toward what’s right because people like John paid the price.”

Lewis died July 17 at the age of 80. Born to sharecroppers during Jim Crow segregation, Lewis was beaten by Alabama state troopers during the civil rights movement, spoke ahead of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech at the 1963 March on Washington and was awarded the Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2011.

Dozens of lawmakers looked on Monday, several wiping tears, as Lewis’ flag-draped casket sat atop the catafalque built for Abraham Lincoln and as late congressman’s voice echoed off the marble and gilded walls. Lewis was the first Black lawmaker to lie in state in the Rotunda.


Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, left, and Republican Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell talk prior to a memorial service. (Shawn Thew/Pool via AP)

“You must find a way to get in the way. You must find a way to get in trouble, good trouble, necessary trouble,” Lewis declared in an Emory University commencement address in Atlanta. “Use what you have to help make our country and make our world a better place, where no one will be left out or left behind … It is your time.”

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus wore masks with the message “Good Trouble,” a nod to Lewis’ signature advice and the COVID-19 pandemic that has made for unusual funeral arrangements.


The ceremony was the latest in a series of public remembrances. Pelosi met his casket earlier Monday at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, and Lewis’ motorcade stopped at Black Lives Matter Plaza near the White House as it wound through Washington before arriving at the Capitol.

Pelosi noted that Lewis, frail with cancer, had come to the newly painted plaza weeks ago to stand “in solidarity” amid nationwide protests against systemic racism and police brutality. She called the image of Lewis “an iconic picture of justice” and juxtaposed it with another image that seared Lewis into the national memory.

In that frame, “an iconic picture of injustice,” Pelosi said, Lewis is collapsed and bleeding near the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., on March 7, 1965, when Alabama state troopers beat him and other Black Americans as they demanded voting rights.

Following the Rotunda service, Lewis’ body was moved to the steps on the Capitol’s east side for a public viewing, an unusual sequence required because the pandemic has closed the Capitol to the public.


The flag-draped casket is carried by a joint services military honour guard to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol on Monday. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool via AP)

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, who served in Congress alongside Lewis, is expected to pay his respects. The pair became friends over their two decades on Capitol Hill together and Biden’s two terms as vice president to Obama.

Notably absent from the ceremonies was President Donald Trump. Lewis once called Trump an illegitimate president and chided him for stoking racial discord. Trump countered by blasting Lewis’ Atlanta congressional district as “crime-infested.” Trump said he would not go to the Capitol, but Vice President Mike Pence is scheduled to pay his respects later Monday.

Just ahead of the ceremonies, the House passed a bill to establish a new federal commission to study conditions that affect Black men and boys.

Civil rights icon

Born near Troy, Ala., Lewis was among the original Freedom Riders, a group of young activists who boarded commercial passenger buses and traveled through the segregated Jim Crow South. They were assaulted and battered at many stops along the way, by citizens and authorities alike. Lewis was the youngest and last-living of those who spoke on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at the March on Washington.

It was the Bloody Sunday march in Selma two years later that would forge so much of Lewis’ public identity. He was at the head of hundreds of civil rights protesters who attempted to march from the Black Belt city to the Alabama Capitol in Montgomery.

The marchers completed the journey weeks later under the protection of federal authorities, but then-Alabama Gov. George C. Wallace, an outspoken segregationist at the time, refused to meet the marchers when they arrived at the Capitol. President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 on Aug. 6 of that year.

WATCH | A look at the legacy of John Lewis:

U.S. Rep. John Lewis was the last survivor of the Big Six civil rights activists who organized the 1963 March on Washington. 7:17

Lewis spoke of those critical months for the rest of his life as he championed voting rights as the foundation of democracy, and he returned to Selma many times for commemorations at the site where authorities had brutalized him and others. “The vote is precious. It is almost sacred,” he said again and again. “It is the most powerful nonviolent tool we have in a democracy.”

Lewis crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge for the last time Sunday on a horse-drawn carriage before an automobile hearse transported him to the Alabama Capitol, where he lay in repose, becoming one of the few citizens who wasn’t a former governor to have such an honour.

He was escorted by Alabama state troopers, this time with Black officers in their ranks, and his casket stood down the hall from the office where Wallace had peered out of his window at the marchers he refused to meet.

Lewis already had a public funeral in Troy. He will have a private funeral Thursday at Atlanta’s historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, which King once led.

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John Saxon, ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ & ‘Enter the Dragon’ Actor, Dead at 83

John Saxon, ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ & ‘Enter the Dragon’ Actor, Dead at 83 | Entertainment Tonight

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Casket of civil rights icon John Lewis crosses Selma bridge

The late U.S. Rep. John Lewis crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., for the final time Sunday as remembrances continue for the civil rights icon.

The bridge became a landmark in the fight for racial justice when Lewis and other civil rights marchers were beaten there 55 years ago on Bloody Sunday, a key event that helped galvanize support for the passage of the Voting Rights Act. Lewis returned to Selma each March in commemoration.

Sunday found him crossing alone — instead of arm-in-arm with civil rights and political leaders — after his coffin was loaded atop a horse-drawn wagon that retraced the route through Selma from Brown Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church, where the 1965 march began.

As the black wagon pulled by a team of dark-coloured horses approached the bridge, members of the crowd shouted, “Thank you, John Lewis!” and “Good trouble!” That’s the phrase Lewis used to describe his tangles with white authorities during the civil rights movement.

WATCH | John Lewis, congressman and civil rights icon, dead at 80. A look at his legacy:

U.S. Rep. John Lewis was the last survivor of the Big Six civil rights activists who organized the 1963 March on Washington. 7:17

Some crowd members sang the gospel song Woke Up This Morning With My Mind Stayed on Jesus. Later, some onlookers sang the civil rights anthem We Shall Overcome and other gospel tunes.

Lewis died July 17 at 80, months after he was diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer. Lewis served in the U.S. House of Representatives for Georgia’s 5th congressional district from 1987 until his death.

The wagon rolled over a carpet of rose petals, pausing atop the bridge over the Alabama River in the summer heat so family members could walk behind it. On the south side of the bridge, where Lewis was beaten by Alabama state troopers in 1965, family members placed red roses that the carriage rolled over, marking the spot where Lewis spilled his blood and suffered a head injury.

As a military honour guard lifted Lewis’s casket from the horse-drawn wagon into an automobile hearse, Alabama state troopers, including some Black Americans, saluted Lewis.

Frank and Ellen Hill drove more than four hours from Monroe, La., to watch the procession.


Lewis is carried via horse-drawn carriage across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala. (Elijah Nouvelage/Reuters)

Frank Hill, 60, said he remembers, as a Black child, watching news footage of Lewis and other civil rights marchers being beaten by law enforcement officers.

“I had to come back and see John Lewis cross the bridge for the last time,” said Hill. “It’s funny to see the state troopers here to honour and respect him rather than beat the crap out of him.”

‘He fought for rights up until his death’

Bertha Surles and Edna Goldsmith stood along the highway between Selma and Montgomery to pay their final respects. Both carried signs reading, “Thank you.”

“He fought for rights up until his death,” said Surles, 70.


A man from the Willie Watkins Funeral Home scatters rose petals representing the blood spilled on Bloody Sunday on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, before the start of the procession for Lewis on Sunday in Selma, Ala. (Elijah Nouvelage/Reuters)

She was in high school on Bloody Sunday and remembered watching the news footage of Lewis being beaten with horror.

“They didn’t give up and something good came from it. Still need some improvement, but something good came from it.”

“John was willing to sacrifice life so we can have the freedom to vote,” said Goldsmith, who was wearing a Black Lives Matter shirt. “We want to see him off with a bang.”

Lewis left his family’s farm in Pike County, Ala., in the 1950s to begin the fight against segregation and racial oppression. He received a hero’s welcome on his final stop in his home state.

After tracing the route of the completed Selma to Montgomery march, an honour guard carried Lewis’s flag-draped casket into the Alabama Capitol, where he will lie in repose. Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey placed a wreath of flowers shaped like the Alabama flag by the casket. U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell placed a wreath shaped like the American flag.


Lewis speaks on the bridge on March 1 to help mark the annual Bloody Sunday march in Selma. Lewis led hundreds of marchers across the Edmund Pettus Bridge on March 7, 1965 as they faced attacks by state troopers. (Joshua Lott/AFP/Getty Images)

His family members, many wearing shirts with the phrase “Good Trouble,” were led first into the capitol before the public viewing later in the afternoon. A line of people, some carrying umbrellas for shade, waited under the brutal midday Alabama sun to go inside and pay their respects.

A series of events began Saturday in Lewis’s hometown of Troy, Ala., to pay tribute the late congressman and his legacy. He will lie in state at the U.S. Capitol next week before his private funeral Thursday at Atlanta’s historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, which the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. once led.

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John Lewis, U.S. congressman and civil rights icon, dead at 80

John Lewis, a lion of the civil rights movement whose bloody beating by Alabama state troopers in 1965 helped galvanize opposition to racial segregation, and who went on to a long and celebrated career in Congress, died. He was 80.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi confirmed Lewis’ passing late Friday night, calling him “one of the greatest heroes of American history.”

“All of us were humbled to call Congressman Lewis a colleague, and are heartbroken by his passing,” Pelosi said. “May his memory be an inspiration that moves us all to, in the face of injustice, make ‘good trouble, necessary trouble.”‘

Lewis’s announcement in late December 2019 that he had been diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer — “I have never faced a fight quite like the one I have now,” he said — inspired tributes from both sides of the aisle, and an unstated accord that the likely passing of this Atlanta Democrat would represent the end of an era.

Lewis was the youngest and last survivor of the Big Six civil rights activists, a group led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. that had the greatest impact on the movement. He was best known for leading some 600 protesters in the Bloody Sunday march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma.


Lewis, foreground, is hit by a state trooper during a civil rights voting march in Selma, Ala., in March 1965. (The Associated Press)

At age 25 — walking at the head of the march with his hands tucked in the pockets of his tan overcoat — Lewis was knocked to the ground and beaten by police. His skull was fractured, and nationally televised images of the brutality forced the country’s attention on racial oppression in the South.

Within days, King led more marches in the state, and President Lyndon Johnson soon was pressing Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act. The bill became law later that year, removing barriers that had barred Blacks from voting.

“John is an American hero who helped lead a movement and risked his life for our most fundamental rights; he bears scars that attest to his indefatigable spirit and persistence,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said after Lewis announced his cancer diagnosis.

Lewis joined King and four other civil rights leaders in organizing the 1963 March on Washington. He spoke to the vast crowd just before King delivered his epochal “I Have a Dream” speech.

A 23-year-old firebrand, Lewis toned down his intended remarks at the insistence of others, dropping a reference to a “scorched earth” march through the South and scaling back criticisms of President John Kennedy.


Lewis, far right, locks arms with other civil rights leaders as they march to the courthouse in Montgomery, Ala., in March 1965. (The Associated Press)

It was a potent speech nonetheless, in which he vowed: “By the forces of our demands, our determination and our numbers, we shall splinter the segregated South into a thousand pieces and put them together in an image of God and democracy.”

It was almost immediately, and forever, overshadowed by the words of King, the man who had inspired him to activism.

Civil rights icon

Lewis was born on Feb. 21, 1940, outside the town of Troy, in Pike County, Ala. He grew up on his family’s farm and attended segregated public schools.

As a boy, he wanted to be a minister, and practiced his oratory on the family chickens. Denied a library card because of the colour of his skin, he became an avid reader, and could cite obscure historical dates and details even in his later years. He was a teenager when he first heard King preaching on the radio. They met when Lewis was seeking support to become the first Black student at Alabama’s segregated Troy State University.

He ultimately attended the American Baptist Theological Seminary and Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn. He began organizing sit-in demonstrations at whites-only lunch counters and volunteering as a Freedom Rider, enduring beatings and arrests while travelling around the South to challenge segregation.


From left: Big Six civil rights leaders John Lewis, Whitney Young, A. Philip Randolph, Martin Luther King Jr., James Farmer and Roy Wilkins are seen at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City in July 1963. (Harry Harris/The Associated Press)

Lewis helped found the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and was named its chairman in 1963, making him one of the Big Six at a tender age. The others, in addition to King, were Whitney Young of the National Urban League; A. Philip Randolph of the Negro American Labor Council; James L. Farmer Jr., of the Congress of Racial Equality; and Roy Wilkins of the NAACP. All six met at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York to plan and announce the March on Washington.

The huge demonstration galvanized the movement, but success didn’t come quickly. After extensive training in nonviolent protest, Lewis and the Rev. Hosea Williams led demonstrators on a planned march of more than 80 kilometres from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama’s capital, on March 7, 1965. A phalanx of police blocked their exit from the Selma bridge.

Authorities shoved, then swung their truncheons, fired tear gas and charged on horseback, sending many to the hospital and horrifying much of the nation. King returned with thousands, completing the march to Montgomery before the end of the month.

Foray into politics

Lewis turned to politics in 1981, when he was elected to the Atlanta City Council.

He won his seat in Congress in 1986 and spent much of his career in the minority. After Democrats won control of the House in 2006, Lewis became his party’s senior deputy whip, a behind-the-scenes leadership post in which he helped keep the party unified.

In an early setback for Barack Obama’s 2008 Democratic primary campaign, Lewis endorsed Hillary Rodham Clinton for the nomination. Lewis switched when it became clear Obama had overwhelming Black support. Obama later honoured Lewis with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and they marched hand in hand in Selma on the 50th anniversary of the Bloody Sunday attack.


U.S. President Barack Obama presents a Presidential Medal of Freedom to Lewis during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in February 2011. (Carolyn Kaster/The Associated Press)

Lewis also worked for 15 years to gain approval for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. Humble and unfailingly friendly, Lewis was revered on Capitol Hill — but as one of the most liberal members of Congress, he often lost policy battles, from his effort to stop the Iraq War to his defence of young immigrants.

He met bipartisan success in Congress in 2006 when he led efforts to renew the Voting Rights Act, but the Supreme Court later invalidated much of the law, and it became once again what it was in his youth, a work in progress. Later, when the presidency of Donald Trump challenged his civil rights legacy, Lewis made no effort to hide his pain.

Lewis refused to attend Trump’s inauguration, saying he didn’t consider him a “legitimate president” because Russians had conspired to get him elected. When Trump later complained about immigrants from “s—-hole countries,” Lewis declared, “I think he is a racist … we have to try to stand up and speak up and not try to sweep it under the rug.”


Lewis, second from left, hold hands with his wife, Lillian, as they march with supporters following his win in a runoff election for Georgia’s 5th Congressional District seat in Atlanta in September 1986. (Linda Schaeffer/The Associated Press)

Lewis said he’d been arrested 40 times in the 1960s, five more as a congressman. At 78, he told a rally he’d do it again to help reunite immigrant families separated by the Trump administration.

“There cannot be any peace in America until these young children are returned to their parents and set all of our people free,” Lewis said in June, recalling the “good trouble” he got into protesting segregation as a young man.

“If we fail to do it, history will not be kind to us,” he shouted. “I will go to the border. I’ll get arrested again. If necessary, I’m prepared to go to jail.”


Lewis is seen on Capitol Hill in Washington in October 2007. (Lawrence Jackson/The Associated Press)

In a speech the day of the House impeachment vote of Trump, Lewis explained the importance of that vote.

“When you see something that is not right, not just, not fair, you have a moral obligation to say something, to do something. Our children and their children will ask us ‘what did you do? what did you say?” While the vote would be hard for some, he said: “We have a mission and a mandate to be on the right side of history.”

Lewis’ wife of four decades, Lillian Miles, died in 2012. They had one son, John Miles Lewis.

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‘John Lewis: Good Trouble’ Director on How the Film’s Message Can Inspire Activists Today (Exclusive)

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Trump asked China to help him win in 2020, offered ‘favours to dictators,’ John Bolton says in book

In a withering behind-the-scenes portrayal, U.S. President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton accused him of sweeping misdeeds that included explicitly seeking Chinese President Xi Jinping’s help to win re-election.

Bolton, a longtime foreign policy hawk who Trump fired in September over policy differences, also said that the U.S. president had expressed a willingness to halt criminal investigations to give “personal favours to dictators he liked,” according to a book excerpt published in the New York Times ahead of its release.

Trump hit back at Bolton, calling him “a liar” in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. The paper also published excerpts Wednesday of the book, titled The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir, as did the Washington Post.

Trump told Fox News in a separate interview that Bolton had broken the law by including highly classified material in the book.

Together, the excerpts portray a U.S. president mocked by his top advisers and who exposed himself to far more extensive accusations of impropriety than those that drove the Democratic-led House of Representatives to impeach Trump last year.

WATCH | Bolton’s book claims Trump is uninformed, White House is in chaos:

According to several U.S. media reports, John Bolton’s new book alleges that U.S. President Donald Trump is uninformed and all his decisions were made with the 2020 presidential election in mind. 2:00

The Republican-led Senate acquitted Trump in early February. Trump was accused of withholding U.S. military aid last year to put pressure on newly elected Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky to provide damaging information on Democratic political opponent Joe Biden.

“Had Democratic impeachment advocates not been so obsessed with their Ukraine blitzkrieg in 2019, had they taken the time to inquire more systematically about Trump’s behaviour across his entire foreign policy, the impeachment outcome might well have been different,” Bolton wrote, according to excerpts in the Wall Street Journal.

Critics of Bolton note he declined to testify before the House inquiry when his disclosures could have been critical.

Representative Adam Schiff, the California Democrat who led the prosecution of Republican Trump, slammed Bolton for saying at the time that “he’d sue if subpoenaed.”

“Instead, he saved it for a book,” Schiff said on Twitter. “Bolton may be an author, but he’s no patriot.”

Still, Bolton’s allegations provide new ammunition to critics ahead of the Nov. 3 presidential election, including his behind-the-scenes accounts of Trump’s conversations with China’s Xi — which, in one case, broached the topic of the U.S. vote.

“Trump then, stunningly, turned the conversation to the coming U.S. presidential election, alluding to China’s economic capability and pleading with Xi to ensure he’d win,” Bolton wrote, in the most in-depth, damaging portrayal by a Trump administration insider to date and just days after former defence secretary Jim Mattis accused the president of trying to divide America.

Lighthizer denies Bolton’s account

Biden said in a statement: “If these accounts are true, it’s not only morally repugnant, it’s a violation of Donald Trump’s sacred duty to the American people.”

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in Senate testimony that Bolton’s account was “absolutely untrue.”

“I was at the meeting. Would I recollect something as crazy as that? Of course I would,” Lighthizer said. “This never happened in it for sure. Completely crazy.”

The U.S. government has sued to block Bolton from publishing the book, citing risks to national security, and is seeking a court hearing on Friday.

Publisher Simon & Schuster has dismissed the accusations, and said “hundreds of thousands of copies” of the book have already been distributed.


Although Trump’s administration had been critical of China’s mass detention of the mostly Muslim Uighur minority and other Muslim groups, Trump gave Xi Jinping, right, a green light in June 2019 in Osaka, Japan, Bolton said. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Although Trump’s administration had been strongly critical of China’s mass detention of the mostly Muslim Uighur minority and other Muslim groups, Trump gave Xi a green light in June 2019 in Osaka, Japan, Bolton said.

“According to our interpreter, Trump said that Xi should go ahead with building the camps, which Trump thought was exactly the right thing to do,” Bolton wrote, saying another top White House official said Trump made similar comments during his November 2017 trip to China.

Bolton cited a number of conversations in which Trump demonstrated “fundamentally unacceptable behaviour that eroded the very legitimacy of the presidency.”

A former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and Fox News television commentator, Bolton’s hawkish approach had worn on a president weary of foreign military entanglements, officials say.

Pompeo mocked Trump, Bolton writes

Trump would sometimes chide Bolton in meetings, introducing him to visiting foreign leaders by saying, “You all know the great John Bolton. He’ll bomb you. He’ll take out your whole country.”

In excerpts published in the Washington Post, Bolton writes that Trump said invading Venezuela would be “cool” and that it was “really part of the United States.”

The U.S. government has publicly said it does not favour using force to topple Venezuela’s socialist President Nicolas Maduro.

The book also exposed the sometimes dim view that Trump’s advisers have of him. During a 2018 meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Bolton says he got a note from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo mocking Trump.

“He is so full of shit,” Pompeo’s note said, according to a Bolton excerpt in the Washington Post.

Although Trump is publicly critical of journalists, Bolton’s book quotes the U.S. president making some of his most alarming remarks to date. In a summer 2019 meeting in New Jersey, Trump allegedly said journalists should be jailed so they have to divulge their sources: “These people should be executed. They are scumbags,” according to another excerpt in the Post.

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Player’s Own Voice podcast: John Smythe says ‘don’t apologize’

John Smythe has a harrowing story to tell. The Canadian National field hockey player was emerging as a young contender when he developed a series of mysterious and painful symptoms — as he says — from gums to bum. Inflammation, extreme gut trouble ensued.

Crohn’s disease is not a straightforward diagnosis to make and it is not an easy disease to live with. For a high-performance athlete, it’s even more of a challenge. The physical stress of an intense workout all by itself can be enough to trigger flare-ups.

But after multiple surgeries and ultimately four years away from the sport, Smythe’s recuperation is lasting, and he has built the ability to quickly recognize symptoms and triggers. Crohn’s is chronic, but Smythe has kept it in remission, to the extent that he’s gearing up fully for the Canadian men’s competition in the Tokyo Olympics.

Smythe leads Player’s Own Voice Podcast host Anastasia Bucsis through the long and dramatic medical ordeal that has brought him to his current state of health.

Like the CBC Sports’ Player’s Own Voice essay series, POV podcast lets athletes speak to Canadians about issues from a personal perspective.  To listen to John Smythe and earlier guests this season, subscribe for free on iTunes, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Tune In or wherever you get your other podcasts.

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CBC | Sports News