“He lost the election and was put into office because the Russians interfered on his behalf,” he said during a panel event hosted by The Carter Center.
When asked whether he believes Trump is an illegitimate president, Carter suggested that he does.
“Based on what I just said, which I can’t retract,” he said to laughter and applause.
Questions over the legitimacy of Trump’s presidency cropped up in the months after the 2016 election after several U.S. intelligence agencies found Russia interfered in the campaign to help Trump win. Concerns reemerged this year after special counsel Robert Mueller released a report detailing his two-year investigation. Mueller also concluded that Russia launched a systematic attack on the 2016 presidential election on Trump’s behalf.
Carter, who was elected in 1976, served as the 39th president of the United States. Since losing his 1980 reelection bid, he has founded The Carter Center, a nonprofit human rights organization that has been active in over 80 countries.
At Friday’s conference, the former president also took on the migrant crisis, referring to Trump’s immigration policies as “a disgrace to the United States.”
The Trump administration has faced significant criticism for its increasingly hard-line policies — especially for its decision to separate children from their families and hold them in overcrowded detention centers that lack basic amenities.
“Every day we send a disgraceful signal around the world, that this is what the president of the United States government stands for,” Carter said. “And that is torture and kidnapping of little children, separation from their parents and deprivation of those who are incarcerated.”