I first met Jimmy Carter in Ramsey, New Jersey, when he was seeking the Democratic nomination for president.

I was a local councilman. Carter had been a Navy officer (submarines), a successful peanut farmer and was the little-known governor of Georgia. He was serious, bright and incredibly hard-working.

Carter barely defeated the likable and honorable Gerald Ford, who paid a high price for pardoning the disgraced Richard Nixon. Carter and Ford became and remained close friends.

Carter served only one term, receiving high grades — including the Nobel Peace Prize — for successful initiatives with the leaders of Israel and Egypt. But high inflation and the seizure of our embassy people in Iran assured the election of Ronald Reagan.

Today, at 94, Carter is America’s longest living ex-president. He’s had some health problems but is still strong physically and mentally. On Sundays, visitors still flock to hear his Sunday School lessons in Plains, Georgia.

The Carter Center does remarkable work internationally. It monitors elections and facilitates distribution of medicines, while training volunteer health providers. It is working to eliminate seven neglected tropical diseases in 13 African countries.

The Carter Center in Uganda is helping to end river blindness, and in Nigeria it fights lymphatic filariasis, schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminths. In Haiti and the Dominican Republic, the foundation assists their health ministries to eliminate malaria and other parasitic diseases spread by mosquitoes.

January 2019 marked the 40th anniversary of normalized diplomatic relations with the United States and China, brokered by President Carter and Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping. For two decades the Carter Center has assisted in Chinese village elections and the building of a civil society. Carter believes the world’s most important bilateral relationship is between the U.S. and China. President’s Trump’s rashly imposed punitive tariffs on China have done much to sour that vital and once friendly relationship.

On June 28, at a human rights conference in Virginia moderated by noted historian Jon Meacham, Carter said, “A full investigation would show that Trump didn’t actually win the election in 2016. He was put into office because the Russians interfered.” Carter added, “I think the interference, though not quantified, should be fully investigated and would show that Trump didn’t actually win the election in 2016, he lost the election.” When asked if Trump was an illegitimate president, Carter replied affirmatively, “Based upon what I just said, which I can’t retract.”

As a third-generation advertising man who has recognized the direct effect of carefully targeted advertising, I agree with Jimmy Carter’s assessment of the 2016 election. The margin of victory by Trump in the Electoral College was hair-thin in just a few decisive states.

The federal government has not assessed nor attempted to estimate the damage done to the Clinton campaign by Russians, and unsuspecting Americans who were duped by significant Russian cyber advertising and promotional efforts. Real harm was done. How significant was it? America’s intelligence agencies agree that Russia worked to help Trump and to undermine Clinton. The Mueller Report confirms that conclusion, and Robert Mueller indicted the Russians who did the dirty work.

Our president acknowledges that, if given help again from a foreign power, he would gladly take it. The number of Russian connections to his family and campaign organization cannot be underestimated. His absurd acceptance of Putin’s statement that Russia did not interfere in our elections is a sick joke.

The fact that America is not threatening Russia with a break in diplomatic relations if it again interferes in any future U.S. election suggests strongly that Trump will again welcome as much Russian support as he can garner in 2020.

Jimmy Carter promised when he ran for president that he would “never lie to the American people.” Trump has already told well over 10,000 lies. I trust Jimmy Carter’s election assessment of 2016 election fraud. Trump is an illegitimate president.

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