Former President Jimmy Carter said Friday morning that Donald Trump is an illegitimate president due to Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Carter, 94, was speaking at a Carter Center event on human rights in Leesburg, Va. when he was asked how he would deal with Russian meddling in the last presidential election.
“The president himself should condemn it, admit that it happened, which I think 16 intelligence agencies have already agreed to say,” said Carter. “And there’s no doubt that the Russians did interfere in the election, and I think the interference although not yet quantified if fully investigated would show that Trump didn’t actually win the election in 2016. He lost the election, and he was put into office because the Russians interfered on his behalf.”
Moderator Jon Meacham then asked if Carter thought Trump was an illegitimate president. Carter paused before replying as the audience laughed.
“Based on what I just said, which I can’t retract,” said Carter smiling, “I would say yes.”
At the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan, on Friday, Trump joked with Russian President Vladimir Putin, wagging his finger and saying, “Don’t meddle in the election, please,” to which Putin smirked. Although a number of U.S. intelligence agencies and special counsel Robert Mueller found that Russia had systemically interfered in the 2016 election, Putin called it “mythical interference” earlier this week.
Though there has been no evidence that Russia interfered with vote tallies, they did reach out to the Trump campaign, hack Democratic email accounts and flood social media.
The number of U.S. intelligence organizations that stated Russia interfered with the 2016 election include the CIA, FBI, Justice Department, Department of Homeland Security, Office of the Director of National Intelligence and both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees.
Trump himself nevertheless repeatedly cast doubt on that conclusion.
“They said they think it’s Russia,” Trump said on July 2018. “I have President Putin, he just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be.”
When pressed the following day, Trump attempted to clarify, saying, “I accept our intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election took place. It could be other people also. There’s a lot of people out there.”