Updated Dec 5, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Lawmakers condemn Trump's call to suspend Constitution

Donald Trump

Trump speaks at Mar-a-Lago on Nov. 15. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

A host of lawmakers from both parties have sharply rebuked former President Trump over the past few days, after he called for the suspension of the Constitution in order to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

Driving the news: Repeating his oft-cited false claims of fraud in the 2020 election in a Truth Social post on Saturday, Trump wrote that such fraud "allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution."

  • Trump's remarks were condemned by the White House, with Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates saying in a statement that "attacking the Constitution and all it stands for is anathema to the soul of our nation."
  • On Monday, the White House also called on GOP lawmakers to "reaffirm their oath of office," in a separate statement issued by Bates to The Hill.

What they're saying: Several influential GOP figures have criticized Trump in since he made the comments. "As elected officials, we take an oath to support and defend the Constitution," Republican Sen. Mike Rounds (S.D.) tweeted on Monday.

  • "We should never dishonor that oath," he said. "No one is above the Constitution. Anyone who desires to lead our country must commit to protecting the Constitution. They should not threaten to terminate it."
  • Rounds added that "there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud that would alter the results of the 2020 election."
  • Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) also condemned Trump's comments on Twitter. "Suggesting the termination of the Constitution is not only a betrayal of our Oath of Office, it’s an affront to our Republic," she tweeted on Sunday night.
  • Former Vice President Mike Pence spoke out as well, telling WVOC radio in Columbia, S.C.: “Everyone that serves in public office, everyone that aspires to serve or to serve again, should make it clear that we will support and defend the Constitution of the United States."
  • Pence also said that he believes "by God's grace" he was able to defend the Constitution "not only my tenure as vice president but in those tumultuous days at the end," referring to Trump's final days in office and efforts to overturn the 2020 election results.

Meanwhile, vocal anti-Trump Republicans had even harsher words for the former president. "No honest person can now deny that Trump is an enemy of the Constitution," Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) tweeted Sunday.

  • "With the former President calling to throw aside the constitution, not a single conservative can legitimately support him, and not a single supporter can be called a conservative," Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) tweeted.
  • "This is insane. Trump hates the constitution," he added.

Separately, some congressional Republicans who appeared on Sunday news shows denounced Trump's claims, with Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH) telling CBS' "Face the Nation" that the former president's remarks were "certainly not consistent with the oath we all take."

  • "I vehemently disagree with the statement that Trump has made," Turner added.
  • Rep.-elect Mike Lawler (R-N.Y.) told CNN's "State of the Union" that he "obviously" disagrees with Trump's comments.
  • "The Constitution is set for a reason, to protect the rights of every American," Lawler said. "So I certainly don't endorse that language or that sentiment."

Yes, but: Rep. Dave Joyce (R-Ohio), appearing on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday, did not rule out supporting Trump if he won the Republican primary ahead of the 2024 election.

  • "I will support whoever the Republican nominee is," Joyce said when asked whether he would support Trump despite his calls to suspend the constitution. "I just don't think that at this point he'll be able to get there because there are a lot of other good quality candidates out there."
  • Pressed about his answer, Joyce said Trump "says a lot of things, but that doesn't matter it's ever going to happen" and said suspending the constitution was a "fantasy."
  • Trump on Monday attempted to backtrack on his comments, blaming the "Fake News" for "trying to convince the American people that I said I wanted to 'terminate' the Constitution."

The other side: "For Donald Trump, last week it was dinner with antisemites. Now he’s calling for an end to America’s constitutional democracy. He’s out of control and a danger to our democracy. Everyone must condemn this attack on our democracy," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) tweeted Sunday.

  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) urged voters in Georgia's runoff election to take action in light of Trump's comments. "You stood tall against Trump and his minions last time," she tweeted Saturday. "A win for Warnock is another win for democracy."
  • "A few hours ago the leader of the republican party donald trump called for destroying the Constitution and making himself dictator," Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) tweeted.
  • "Every congressional reporter should demand responses from Congressional Republicans about Donald Trump’s call for the Constitution to be terminated … how many of them called themselves 'Constitutional conservatives' during the Obama years???" Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) tweeted Saturday evening.
  • "Donald Trump wants to suspend the Constitution in the name of protecting the Constitution, just like he perpetrated election fraud in the name of preventing election fraud," Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.) tweeted.
  • "January 6 was Donald Trump’s attempt at terminating the US Constitution. He’s a repeat offender," Torres added in another tweet.
  • “Trump’s words and actions are well beyond the bounds of acceptable political discourse, they stoke hatred and political violence, and they are dangerous," Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) said in a statement.
  • "Trump has openly declared himself an enemy of the Constitution, and Republicans must repudiate him," Beyer added.

Newly elected Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) told ABC's "This Week" on Sunday that he "thought it was a strange statement."

  • "The Republicans are going to have to work out their issues with the former president and decide whether they're going to break from him and return to some semblance of reasonableness, or continue to lean into the extremism, not just of Trump but of Trump-ism," Jeffries added.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional reporting.

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