Trump’s online posts Saturday — including one where he wrote that “UNPARALLELED FRAUD REQUIRES UNPARALLELED CURE!” — represented a significant escalation in his attacks on American institutions and democratic norms, one that scholars say should be heeded as a sign of how far he is willing to go to regain power.
“A massive fraud of this type and magnitude allows the termination of all rules, regulations and articles, even those in the Constitution,” Trump wrote on the Truth Social platform. “Our great ‘founders’ did not and would not condone false and fraudulent elections!”
But only a handful of Republican lawmakers have joined the White House and Democrats in condemning Trump’s claims. Representatives for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) did not respond to requests for comment on Sunday.
Last month, announced McCarthy that Republicans would read every word of the Constitution aloud on the House floor when the GOP takes control of the chamber in January.
Some GOP lawmakers who were asked about Trump’s latest message on Sunday political shows said they disagreed with the former president. However, most were still hesitant to say they would oppose Trump if he becomes the GOP’s 2024 presidential nominee.
Rep. David Joyce (R-Ohio), chairman of the Republican Steering Group, avoided answering directly when ABC’s “This Week” was asked about Trump’s comments, saying he “made no habit of speaking out on his tweet du jour” when Trump was in office. At the urging of host George Stephanopoulos, Joyce said he would “support anyone who is the Republican nominee,” but he didn’t think Trump “could get there.”
“Well, first of all, he doesn’t — he doesn’t have the ability to suspend the Constitution,” Joyce said. “You know, he says a lot of things, but that doesn’t mean it’s ever going to happen.”
Harvard Law School professor of constitutional law Laurence H. Tribe said there has been a legitimate, intellectual debate among constitutional scholars about whether the flaws in the nation’s founding documents are so fundamental that a new constitutional convention should be come.
However, what Trump is concerned with is “not debate, but destruction,” Tribe said in an interview. “What he is doing is openly screaming in desperation that everything that stands in his way of becoming omnipotent must be wiped out.”
Trump announced his reelection campaign for president last month after a number of Trump-backed candidates lost key races in the midterm elections, complicating questions within the Republican Party about how to navigate their relationship with the former president.
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While Tribe acknowledged that Trump has said many outrageous things that shouldn’t always attract attention, he doesn’t believe this latest statement should be brushed aside, especially after Trump’s unfounded claims about the 2020 election led to a pro-Trump mob stormed the US Capitol. January 6, 2021, in an effort to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s election victory.
“It is a distinctive statement. It pretty much says the quiet part out loud — that he has no reverence for the country, for anything but himself,” Tribe said. “This is like saying, ‘Do you want to see an uprising? I’ll show you a rebellion. I’ll just tear things up.’ ”
Trump’s defenders rallied on Sunday to quell the controversy. A Republican aide close to the ex-president, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations, argued that the post was not literally advocating or calling for an end to the Constitution.
When asked to clarify why Trump was not at least advocating for the termination of the Constitution, the agent said: “He is comparing the unprecedented nature of Big Tech’s meddling in the 2020 election to favor Joe Biden with the unprecedented act of ending the Constitution. suggesting without evidence that technology platforms had tipped the scales for Biden in 2020.
Trump’s posts on Saturday came a day after Twitter’s new owner Elon Musk claimed he would reveal how Twitter engaged in “suppression of free speech” ahead of the 2020 election. But from his “ Twitter Files” did not show that the tech giant bowed to the will of the Democrats.
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Some GOP members were stronger in their rebukes of Trump’s comments. On CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Representative Michael Turner (R-Ohio) said he “absolutely” condemned Trump’s comments, but stressed that there was a long political process ahead before Trump could be considered a frontrunner in 2024.
“I strongly disagree with the statement Trump made. Trump has, you know, made a thousand statements that I don’t agree with,” Turner said. He added that voters “will definitely take a statement like this into account when evaluating a candidate.”
Trump’s comments led to a stern rebuke from the White House and several Democrats, as well as Republicans who have fallen out of favor within their party for their longstanding criticism of Trump. Representatives Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) called Trump a enemy of the Constitutionand Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) wondered how their fellow Republicans could continue to support him.
“With the former president calling for the Constitution to be overruled, no conservative can legitimately support him and no supporter can be called a conservative,” Kinzinger said. tweeted Sunday, tagging McCarthy’s Twitter handles as well as Reps Elise Stefanik (RN.Y.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) in his post. “This is insane. Trump hates the Constitution.”
Congressman-elect Mike Lawler (RN.Y.) echoed several other Republicans in their responses to Trump, saying it was generally time to look ahead, rather than re-litigate the 2020 election.
“The Constitution was created for a reason, to protect the rights of every American. And so I certainly don’t endorse it [Trump’s] language or that sentiment,” Lawler said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I think the former president would do well to focus on the future if he is running for president again.”
Representative Hakeem Jeffries (DN.Y.), who will become Democratic minority leader in January, dismissed Trump’s comments as another “extraordinary” statement by the former president and ultimately an identity crisis for the GOP.
“I thought it was an odd statement, but Republicans will have to sort out their issues with the former president and decide whether to break away from him and return to a semblance of reason or continue to lean on extremism. , not just from Trump, but from Trumpism,” Jeffries said on ABC’s “This Week.”
Several top Republicans — including former Vice President Mike Pence — recently issued rare rebukes to Trump after he dined with white nationalist Nick Fuentes and rapper Ye, both of whom have histories of anti-Semitic remarks.
On Sunday, Israel’s prime ministerial candidate Benjamin Netanyahu said he believed Trump “probably understands” that the dinner crossed a line, but was hesitant to blame Trump or his rhetoric for an increase in anti-Semitism. Him instead blamed social media for amplifying such divisions.
“There are tons of blessings of the internet age, but it also comes with a curse. And the curse is polarization,” Netanyahu said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Anti-Semitism, he said, is “the oldest hatred, as I said, one of the oldest hatreds against humanity. It was wrong then, it is wrong now. But it probably got an extra life in the United States and other countries because of the internet age.”
Isaac Arnsdorf, Karoun Demirjian, Toluse Olorunnipa and Missy Ryan contributed to this report.