NASHVILLE, Tn -- Former Atlanta mayor Andrew Young defended Georgia lawmaker John Lewis during a surprise Monday afternoon phone call from President-elect Donald Trump.
The former U.N. ambassador and and aide to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was in Nashville to speak during a morning breakfast sponsored by law firm Bone McAllester Norton.
Young told Trump that Lewis is a saint and disillusioned with the results of the election.
"John is a good ... a very good man, he is really a saint," Young told Trump. "He is kind of disillusioned right now, but he will come back."
Trump’s call to Young happened during an exclusive Tennessean interview with the civil rights leader and Mayor Megan Barry, who also spoke with Trump. The about four-minute call came after Trump's visit with Martin Luther King III — a meeting that King III said was "constructive" and focused on making it easier for people to vote.
Young, who was with Martin Luther King Jr. when he was assassinated in Memphis in 1968, didn't say what Trump said on the phone call. But he said he was invited to the meeting between Trump and King III. Young couldn't attend because of his obligation to speak in Nashville, and the president-elect called him to say "hello," Young said.
Lewis — whom Young called one of the many influential leaders of the civil rights movement during the interview — is involved in a dispute with Trump after he described him as an illegitimate president, citing Russian efforts to sabotage Hillary Clinton's campaign during the presidential race.
Trump tweeted Saturday morning in response that the Georgia Democrat should take better care of his “horrible” and “crime-infested” district and was “all talk, talk, talk — no action or results. Sad!”
Lewis was a student at Fisk University when he led nonviolent sit-ins in Nashville to protest segregated lunch counters. He also took the first Freedom Ride out of Washington, which challenged segregation at interstate bus terminals. He was arrested 40 times.
Young said Lewis made a mistake in questioning the election results and that democracy is important. Even with all its flaws, “it’s the best we are going to get," Young said.
“John Lewis knows that,” Young said after the phone call with Trump. “I think that he made a mistake in saying it, and I think the president-elect made a mistake in responding.”
At some point, the two men will begin to work together, Lewis said.
“I guarantee it,” he said.
Young said after his talk with Trump that when the first major issue arises, Americans will begin to unite.
“As soon as things calm down that spirit will come back together,” Young told Trump. After hanging up Young said, "Now that is a different Donald Trump than anybody has ever heard."
USA Today contributed to this report.
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