Jimmy Carter defends Trump in a wide-ranging New York Times interview

In one of his first major interviews since President Donald Trump took office, former President Jimmy Carter opened up about his views on politics and cultural clashes in the Trump era.

Speaking with New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd in a piece titled "Jimmy Carter Lusts for a Trump Posting", Carter opined on a number of political topics:

  • The former president said he would serve as a liaison to North Korea, and that he offered his services to Trump's national security adviser H.R. McMaster at the funeral of Zbigniew Brzezinski, an adviser who helped shape Carter's foreign policy agenda.
  • Carter said the US is no longer "the dominant character in the whole world," and "we're not going to be," adding that "Russia's coming back and India and China are coming forward."
  • He knocked former President Barack Obama's decision to bomb Yemen, as well as his refusal to hold more serious discussions with North Korea.
  • On NFL players protesting racial injustice and bias in law enforcement by kneeling during the national anthem, Carter said players "ought to find a different way to object, to demonstrate," saying he wished players would stand during the anthem.

And although the former president said Trump was exacerbating racial tensions, Carter also repeatedly defended the current president:

  • He said although Trump may be contributing to the souring of America's image in the world, the declining image of America "precedes Trump."
  • Carter was not as bothered by Trump's relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and disagreed with his wife about the impact of Russia's meddling in the 2016 election, saying "I don't think there's any evidence that what the Russians did changed enough votes, or any votes."
  • Carter claimed that the "media have been harder on Trump than any other president certainly that I've known about," saying that reporters felt "free to claim that Trump is mentally deranged and everything else without hesitation."

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Five former presidents attend concert benefiting hurricane relief efforts
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Five former presidents attend concert benefiting hurricane relief efforts
Five former U.S. presidents, Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama attend a concert at Texas A&M University benefiting hurricane relief efforts in College Station, Texas, U.S., October 21, 2017. REUTERS/Richard Carson
Lady Gaga performs for the five former U.S. presidents, Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama during a concert at Texas A&M University benefiting hurricane relief efforts in College Station, Texas, U.S., October 21, 2017. REUTERS/Richard Carson
Former U.S. President Barack Obama is in the spotlight as he walks off stage after the appearance of the five former U.S. presidents, Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama at a concert at Texas A&M University benefiting hurricane relief efforts in College Station, Texas, U.S., October 21, 2017. REUTERS/Richard Carson
Five former U.S. presidents, Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama attend a concert at Texas A&M University benefiting hurricane relief efforts in College Station, Texas, U.S., October 21, 2017. REUTERS/Richard Carson
U.S. president George H.W. Bush is helped off the stage by George W. Bush as Bill Clinton and Barack Obama follow close behind during a concert at Texas A&M University where the five former U.S. Presidents including Jimmy Carter attended a concert benefiting hurricane relief efforts in College Station, Texas, U.S., October 21, 2017. REUTERS/Richard Carson
Lady Gaga acknowledges the five former U.S. presidents, Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama during a concert at Texas A&M University benefiting hurricane relief efforts in College Station, Texas, U.S., October 21, 2017. REUTERS/Richard Carson
Five former U.S. presidents, Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama attend a concert at Texas A&M University benefiting hurricane relief efforts in College Station, Texas, U.S., October 21, 2017. REUTERS/Richard Carson
Five former U.S. presidents, Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama attend a concert at Texas A&M University benefiting hurricane relief efforts in College Station, Texas, U.S., October 21, 2017. REUTERS/Richard Carson
Former U.S. president George H.W. Bush is helped off the stage by George W. Bush as Bill Clinton and Barack Obama follow close behind during a concert at Texas A&M University where the five former U.S. Presidents including Jimmy Carter attended a concert benefiting hurricane relief efforts in College Station, Texas, U.S., October 21, 2017. REUTERS/Richard Carson
Lady Gaga throws kisses after her performance to the five former U.S. presidents, Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama during a concert at Texas A&M University benefiting hurricane relief efforts in College Station, Texas, U.S., October 21, 2017. REUTERS/Richard Carson
Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush is helped off the stage by George W. Bush as Bill Clinton and Barack Obama follow close behind during a concert at Texas A&M University where the five former U.S. Presidents including Jimmy Carter attended a concert benefiting hurricane relief efforts in College Station, Texas, U.S., October 21, 2017. REUTERS/Richard Carson
Five former U.S. presidents, Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama attend a concert at Texas A&M University benefiting hurricane relief efforts in College Station, Texas, U.S., October 21, 2017. REUTERS/Richard Carson
Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush and wife Barbara are on the big screen as the crowd applauds him for bringing his Presidential Library to Texas A&M University during a concert at Texas A&M University benefiting hurricane relief efforts in College Station, Texas, U.S., October 21, 2017.REUTERS/Richard Carson
Five former U.S. presidents, Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama attend a concert at Texas A&M University benefiting hurricane relief efforts in College Station, Texas, U.S., October 21, 2017. REUTERS/Richard Carson
Five former U.S. presidents, Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Bill Clinton attend a concert at Texas A&M University benefiting hurricane relief efforts in College Station, Texas, U.S., October 21, 2017. REUTERS/Richard Carson
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Some political pundits on the Sunday morning talk shows speculated whether Carter was positioning himself for a job in Trump's administration by complimenting the president in the press.

Carter has regularly made his opinions on politics known since leaving office, even if they have gone against the grain of the leaders of both parties.

He clashed with former President Bill Clinton (who blamed Carter for his gubernatorial reelection loss) and though he supported Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election, the 39th president voted for opponent Sen. Bernie Sanders during the Democratic primary.

He also famously irked former President George H.W. Bush by loudly opposing the Gulf War.

In recent years, Carter has lamented the influence of money in politics, criticizing Democrats and Republicans for taking campaign contributions from wealthy interests.

Read the full New York times story here »

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