Top Republicans have stayed silent as the White House strongly criticized former President Donald Trump for suggesting that the Constitution be terminated in his ongoing efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
In a post to his Truth Social platform Saturday, Trump called for the termination of the Constitution to put him back in power, citing his baseless claims of widespread election fraud in the last presidential election. “A Massive Fraud of this type and magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution,” he wrote.
Trump’s post came after Twitter CEO Elon Musk promoted a series of tweets Friday revealing internal documents about how the company handled a New York Post article about Hunter Biden in 2020.
In a statement to NBC News and other news outlets, the White House said attacks on the Constitution should be “universally condemned.”
“Attacking the Constitution and all it stands for is anathema to the soul of our nation and should be universally condemned,” White House spokesman Andrew Bates said, describing the Constitution as a “sacrosanct document.”
As of Sunday morning, Republican leaders, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., as well as the Republican National Committee had not publicly commented on Trump’s post. NBC News reached out to spokespeople for McConnell, McCarthy and the RNC for comment Saturday but did not receive any response.
A handful of prominent Republicans, however, were pressed to weigh in on Sunday programs.
Rep.-elect Mike Lawler, R-N.Y., said “Well, obviously, I don’t support that” in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“The Constitution is set for a reason, to protect the rights of every American. And so I certainly don’t endorse that language or that sentiment. I think the question for everyone is how we move forward,” Lawler said, adding that he thinks Americans are “tired of discussing the grievances of prior elections” and that Trump would be “well-advised to focus on the future, if he is going to run for president again.”
Marc Short, former Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, lamented that Trump’s remarks have become a “consistent trend,” pointing out that the former president had demanded that Pence put the Constitution aside to overturn the election results after he lost reelection to Joe Biden.
“The president’s remarks, the company he’s keeping, I think is way beyond the fold,” Short said during an appearance on NBC News’ “Meet the Press.”
Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, similarly dismissed Trump’s call for the termination of the Constitution in an interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” He said, “It’s certainly not consistent with the oath we all take.”
But Turner sidestepped when asked whether the frontrunner for the GOP nomination in the 2024 election should make such a statement. While he said he “vehemently disagrees” with the former president’s statement, Turner did not directly answer the question, even after host Margaret Brennan pressed repeatedly.
“There is a political process that has to go forward before anyone is a frontrunner or anybody is even a candidate for the party,” Turner said. “And I believe, answering your question, that people certainly are going to take into consideration a statement like this as they evaluate a candidate.”
Rep. David Joyce, R-Ohio, also appeared reluctant to condemn Trump’s remarks during an appearance on ABC News’ “This Week.”
Joyce said he was unaware of what the former president posted and that “people were not interested in looking backwards” when asked to respond to Trump’s statement.
Pressed on whether he can support a candidate in 2024 who wants to suspend the Constitution, Joyce said that he will choose “whoever the Republican nominee is” because he expects Trump to have many challengers in 2024. He also said the former president lacks the authority to carry out his “fantasy” of suspending the Constitution.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., a vocal opponent of Trump who serves on the House Jan. 6 committee, called Trump’s statement “insane.”
“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. This is insane. Trump hates the Constitution,” tweeted Kinzinger, who is retiring from Congress.
Meanwhile, Democrats swiftly rebuked Trump’s statement shortly after it was posted.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said he “vociferously” condemns Trump’s remarks and urged his colleagues on both sides of the aisle to do the same.
“If America doesn’t extricate itself from Donald Trump and his MAGA ideology, it will undercut our American way of life,” Schumer told reporters during a press conference Sunday.
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., chair of the House Intelligence Committee, called out the silence of so-called “constitutional conservatives.”
“I guess a ‘constitutional conservative’ is one who is conservative in their support for the constitution … when it’s inconvenient,” Schiff said in a tweet.