Donald Trump has dismissed former President Jimmy Carter’s swipe at the legitimacy of his presidency, calling it nothing more than a “Democrat talking point” while offering his own digs at the 94-year-old Carter.
Speaking to reporters at a press conference at the G20 summit in Japan, Trump said he was surprised by the former president’s comments alleging that Russian interference in the 2016 election was responsible for putting him in the White House.
And he punched back – though with a somewhat muted response, at least for Trump.
“Look, he was a nice man. He was a terrible president. He’s a Democrat. And it’s a typical talking point. He’s loyal to the Democrats. And I guess you should be.”
Trump added: “As everybody now understands, I won not because of Russia, not because of anybody but myself.”
Carter, speaking during a discussion on human rights at a resort in Leesburg, Virginia on Friday, had said there was “no doubt that the Russians did interfere” in 2016.
He also alleged that that interference, “though 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.”
Trump lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by nearly 3m ballots but won the White House in the electoral college.
The US intelligence community asserted in a 2017 report that Russia worked to help Trump during the election and to undermine Clinton, a finding discussed at length by special counsel Robert Mueller in his report on such Russian efforts, links between the Trump campaign and Moscow and potential obstruction of justice by the president.
But the intelligence agencies did not assess whether that interference had affected the election or contributed to Trump’s victory.
On Friday Trump met Vladimir Putin met at the G20. Trump jokingly raised the issue. Asked if he would tell Putin not to meddle in the 2020 election the US president, without looking at his Russian counterpart, said: “Don’t meddle in the election, please.’” He then repeated the phrase with a mock finger wag.
Trump insisted during his Saturday press conference that he beat Clinton because he worked harder and was smarter. And he claimed that he’d “felt badly” for Carter because of the way he’d “been trashed within his own party.”
“He’s been badly trashed,” said Trump. “He’s like the forgotten president. And I understand why they say that. He was not a good president.”
Carter was the 39th president, in office between 1977, after beating Gerald Ford, and 1981, after losing to Ronald Reagan in a landslide. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002.