It seems former President Jimmy Carter’s remarks that President Trump wasn’t legitimately elected were too much even for Trump critic Jeff Flake.
In a rare defense of Trump, the former Arizona senator called out Carter for the “awful thing” he said as he reacted in a tweet on Friday.
“This is an awful thing for one American president to say about another,” Flake, the former GOP senator who was no fan of Trump himself, tweeted. “Argue that he shouldn’t be reelected, sure, but don’t say that he wasn’t legitimately elected.”
This is an awful thing for one American President to say about another. Argue that he shouldn’t be reelected, sure, but don’t say that he wasn’t legitimately elected.https://t.co/jRjGdH6n9Q
— Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) June 28, 2019
Discussing Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation during a Democratic forum on Friday, Carter argued that further study would show that Trump “didn’t actually win” the 2016 election.
“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,” the one-term former Democratic president said at the Carter Center’s retreat in Leesburg, Virginia.
The 94-year-old paused after being asked if that meant he thought Trump is an “illegitimate president.”
“Based on what I just said, which I can’t retract, I’d say yes,” Carter said as the audience broke into laughter.
Jimmy Carter on Russian interference: “If fully investigated, it would show that Trump didn’t actually win the election in 2016. He lost the election and he was put in office because the Russians interfered on his behalf.”
Via CSPAN pic.twitter.com/9gSrQawpiU
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) June 28, 2019
While Carter has been critical of some of Trump’s foreign policy decisions, he has not been as adversarial as some of his successors. The two spoke for the first time in April when they shared a “very good telephone conversation” on US-China trade negotiations, among other topics, according to the White House.
But after Carter’s comments on Friday, Trump responded in Japan at the G-20 summit that Carter was a “nice man, terrible president,” and said he is a Democrat repeating a “typical talking point.”
Trump downplays former president Jimmy Carter calling him illegitimate and saying he wouldn’t have run but for Russian interference as “a Democrat talking point,” and trashes him as “a terrible president” pic.twitter.com/ebVg2V7fmJ
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) June 29, 2019
Meanwhile, Flake doubled down on his criticism of Carter in a follow-up tweet calling to mind Trump’s “awful embrace of birtherism” when attacking former President Obama.
We need to stop trying to disqualify each other. I could not support President Trump largely because of his awful embrace of birtherism. President Carter calling President Trump illegitimate is not right either. We should be better than this.
— Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) June 29, 2019
Flake’s unusual defense of Trump ignited the left which roasted him on Twitter.
Dear Jeff Flake: Anyone who reads Volume I of the Mueller Report will understand President Carter’s statement. Perhaps you should be more concerned about the awful fact that a foreign power interfered in American elections, and is likely to do so again. @JeffFlake https://t.co/4FvvLCpAvj
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) June 29, 2019
Jeff Flake should’ve defended our country from Russia with the same energy he’s using to attack Jimmy Carter.
— Matt Deitsch (@MattxRed) June 29, 2019
I am with whomever Jeff Flake is upset at. In this case, the GREAT Jimmy Carter. https://t.co/qmsw8Tba8H
— Linda Sarsour (@lsarsour) June 29, 2019
Thanks for reminding us why nobody likes you.
— Paul (@pablo_honey1) June 28, 2019
It must be very upsetting for you to see someone with a spine saying the things you were too much of a huge f***ing coward to say.
— The Hoarse Whisperer (@HoarseWisperer) June 28, 2019
Many Twitter users, however, slammed Carter’s comments and were surprised by Flake”s defense of Trump.
Did Jeff Flake’s Twitter get hacked? https://t.co/akY7XfDF7J
— Tim Young (@TimRunsHisMouth) June 28, 2019
Wow, cant believe he actually stood up for Trump. Big breaking news
— Shane Flannagan (@shaneflannagan) June 28, 2019
No, it’s just that Carter’s comments were that inappropriate.
— tomsmith (@tombobsmith) June 29, 2019
— InThePublicInterest (@IWalkedAway3) June 29, 2019
Look at the people standing up for Carter! ?
— Boo Radley (@BooRadl11994812) June 29, 2019
Why do these former presidents hate @realDonaldTrump ? JEALOUSY!
Jimmy Carter, you’re the biggest do-nothing president in history, sit down.
— Tomi Lahren (@TomiLahren) June 28, 2019
Of all the people Jeff Flake came to Presiden’s defense. ?
Don’t know how President Carter got elected. But he wasn’t Presidential. A spineless, pontificating ideologue, he ruined American economy & allowed our embassy people to languish in Iranian detention centers for months. https://t.co/3V1fij3VBg
— Common Sense (@CommonSenseWise) June 29, 2019
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