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Jimmy Carter: Trump only won in 2016 because of Russian meddling

Former President Jimmy CarterJimmy CarterBiden faces monumental task healing divided country The Hill's Morning Report - Trump impeached again; now what? When government becomes destructive MORE said Friday that he believes President TrumpDonald TrumpGiuliani used provisional ballot to vote in 2020 election, same method he disparaged in fighting to overturn results Trump gets lowest job approval rating in final days as president Fox News' DC managing editor Bill Sammon to retire MORE only won the 2016 election because Russia interfered to help him defeat Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonJuan Williams: The real 'Deep State' is pro-Trump Rep. John Katko: Why I became the first Republican lawmaker to support impeachment Can we protect our country — from our rulers, and ourselves? MORE.

“There’s no doubt that the Russians did interfere in the elections and I think the interference, although not yet quantified, if fully investigated would show that Trump didn’t actually win the election in 2016,” Carter said at an event in Leesburg, Va.

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“He lost the election and he was put into office because the Russians interfered on his behalf,” Carter said.

When asked by moderator and historian Jon Meacham if he believed Trump was then an “illegitimate” president, Carter replied: “Based on what I just said, which I can’t retract.”

The White House did not immediately return a request for comment on Carter’s remarks Friday.

Former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerWhy a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel CNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump MORE found that Russia interfered in the 2016 election in “sweeping and systematic fashion” in order to help Trump prevail over Clinton. Neither Mueller nor the U.S. intelligence community has said that Russia’s efforts, which included hacking Democratic organizations and spreading disinformation, contributed directly to Trump’s election.

Mueller also did not find sufficient evidence to charge members or associates of Trump’s campaign with conspiring with Russia to interfere in the vote.

“Although the investigation established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome, and that the Campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts, the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities,” states Mueller’s 448-page report.

Trump has repeatedly cast doubt on the U.S. intelligence community’s assessment that Russia interfered in the election in order to help his candidacy.

Following the conclusion of Mueller’s two-year investigation, Trump tweeted in May that Russia helped his campaign during the election, only to walk back the remarks moments later.

“No, Russia did not help me get elected,” Trump told reporters at the White House one day after Mueller delivered his first public remarks on the investigation.

Carter, who was participating in a discussion on human rights hosted by the Carter Center, said Friday that Trump should “condemn” Russian interference and “admit that it happened.”

Carter’s remarks came hours after Trump met with Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinIncoming national security adviser calls for immediate release of Kremlin critic Navalny Kremlin critic Navalny detained in Moscow upon return to Russia Navalny planning return to Russia on Sunday MORE on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Osaka, Japan.

Ahead of the meeting, journalists asked Trump if he would warn Russia not to meddle in future U.S. elections.

"Yes, of course, I will. Don’t meddle in the election, please. Don't meddle in the election,” Trump said, pointing to Putin and smiling. 

Trump beat Clinton in the Electoral College 304 to 227, but lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million.