Former President Jimmy Carter questioned the legitimacy of Donald Trump’s presidency on Thursday, saying he would likely not be in the White House if the Russians did not interfere in the 2016 presidential election.
“I think a full investigation 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,” the former president, who served between 1977 and 1981, said at a panel hosted by the Carter Center in Leesburg, Va.
Pressed by moderator and historian Jon Meacham on whether he believes Trump is an “illegitimate president,” Carter stared, and then said smiling, “Basically, what I said, I can’t retract.” Carter’s remark drew laughs from the audience and Meacham.
The Mueller report and other evidence indisputably shows that the Russian government and its operatives interfered in the 2016 U.S. election and wanted to swing the election to Trump. It also showed that the Trump Administration welcomed the Russians’ help.
It did not, however, show, that the Russian activity was decisive (whether we are talking about the hacking and releasing of DNC/Podesta emails, the social media campaign, and the hacking into state voter registration databases).
It is not clear that a “full investigation” would show any more than this. The way President Carter phrased this, especially as someone who has worked so hard and constructively around the world for election integrity, is very troublesome.
AND: Here‘s my testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on Volume 1 of the Mueller Report and the potential for foreign interference in 2020.