President Donald Trump responded Saturday to criticism from former President Jimmy Carter by calling him a “terrible president” and asserted that Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., got “too much credit” for her debate performance following two days of intensive meetings with foreign leaders here.
Trump mocked Carter – who a day earlier suggested his presidency was illegitimate because of Russian interference in the 2016 election – as a “nice man” who was “trashed by his own party.”
“Russia, Russia, Russia,” Trump said in an exasperated tone during a news conference at the end of the Group of 20 summit. “He’s a Democrat and that’s a typical talking point.”
Trump added that Carter’s efforts to deal with Iran, which held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days, were “a disaster. They tied him up in knots. That’s probably why Ronald Reagan became president.”
The president also weighed in on the first Democratic debates that took place this week in Miami, suggesting that Harris’ performance was overrated and that former Vice President Biden could have responded more effectively to her criticism of his opposition to federally mandated desegregation busing in the 1970s.
“She’s been given too much credit for what she did. It wasn’t that outstanding,” Trump said. “He was hit harder than he should have been hit.” Asked his own position on busing to desegregate public schools, Trump said he was developing a policy related to the issue that would be revealed in four weeks but declined to elaborate.
Trump also praised Mexico for stepping up immigration enforcement, stated that his administration was developing a “smart person’s waiver” to allow successful foreign college students to remain in the United States more easily after graduating, said the administration would appeal a federal judge’s ruling to block the use of Pentagon funds for a section of a proposed border wall and called another judge’s decision to stop the administration from adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census “horrible and ridiculous.”
Trump also was asked why he appeared to take a joking tone a day earlier when he told Russian President Vladimir Putin “don’t meddle in the election” during a photo op ahead of their bilateral meeting. The president made the remark just after referring to reporters as “fake news” while making small-talk with Putin.
“You have to look at the words. I did say it,” Trump said Saturday, before pivoting to say he would like to increase economic trade with Russia. When another reported followed up, the president said he and Putin talked about the election issue a “little bit” in private, but he didn’t offer details of their discussions.
In all, Trump held court for more than an hour, fielding questions from numerous reporters, before departing Osaka aboard Air Force One to Seoul, where he will meet over two days with South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
(c) 2019, The Washington Post · David Nakamura