Jimmy Carter, the liberal 93-year-old former president, surprisingly sided with President Trump when he told The New York Times that the media have been been too hostile on the current commander-in-chief.
“I think the media have been harder on Trump than any other president certainly that I’ve known about,” Carter told The New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd. The 39th president served one term from 1977 to 1981.
Carter added that he thought the media “feel free to claim that Trump is mentally deranged and everything else without hesitation.”
The former president also pushed back on accusations of Russian collusion in the 2016 presidential election, saying: “I don’t think there’s any evidence that what the Russians did changed enough votes, or any votes.” He said his wife, Rosalynn, disagreed with him, before he added, “We voted for [Bernie] Sanders” in the primary.
Carter also doesn’t believe the current president’s “America First” strategy is out of step with the larger world, spoiling international relations. “Well, he might be escalating it but I think that precedes Trump,” he told the Times. “The United States has been the dominant character in the whole world and now we’re not anymore. And we’re not going to be. Russia’s coming back and India and China are coming forward.”
Carter also said he’s willing to go to North Korea on a diplomatic mission amid the escalating tensions over nuclear weapons.
“I don’t know what they’ll do,” he said of North Korea. “Because they want to save their regime. And we greatly overestimate China’s influence on North Korea. Particularly to Kim Jong Un. He’s never, so far as I know, been to China.”
He called the North Korean dictator “unpredictable.”
In September, Carter expressed optimism that Trump might break a legislative logjam with his six-month deadline for Congress to address the immigration status of 800,000-plus U.S. residents who were brought to the country illegally as children.
Carter told Emory University students that the “pressures and the publicity that Trump has brought to the immigration issue” could even yield comprehensive immigration law changes that Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama could not muster.
He blamed both major parties for an inability to pass any major immigration law overhaul since a 1986 law signed by President Ronald Reagan.
“I don’t see that as a hopeless cause,” Carter said. He added that Trump’s critics, including himself, “have to give him credit when he does some things that are not as bad” as they are depicted.