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A new low: Why Trump endorsed ‘terminating’ constitutional law

For the first time, Donald Trump explicitly called for the Constitution to be subverted in pursuit of his ridiculous election conspiracy theories.


Donald Trump has spent much of his post-presidency tenure preparing for a comeback campaign in 2024, but the Republican has periodically made the case that he simply isn’t willing to wait that long to reclaim power he hasn’t earned.

As regular readers may recall, it was in April 2021 when the former president sounded very much like a politician who believed it was still possible his defeat could and would be reversed. In June 2021, The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman reported that Trump had been telling a number of people he was in contact with that he expected he would get "reinstated" to the presidency by August 2021.

Around the same time, CNN ran a related piece, reporting that Trump had “been asking advisers in recent weeks if he could somehow reassume the presidency this year after listening to farfetched suggestions from conservative commentators and allies.”

In October 2021, referencing a weird election conspiracy theory out of Arizona that had long since been forgotten, Trump wrote, “Either a new Election should immediately take place or the past Election should be decertified and the Republican candidate declared the winner.” In August 2022, he pushed the same line again, clinging to bonkers conspiracy theories, and insisting that he be immediately reinstated to the presidency or be allowed to compete in a do-over election.

As Trump’s lawyers very likely told him, such a scenario is entirely impermissible within the United States’ legal system. With this in mind, he broke new ground over the weekend, explicitly endorsing a suspension of our constitutional order. As Politico summarized on Saturday:

Donald Trump, the former president and the person that polls show is still the most likely GOP presidential nominee in 2024, today on Truth Social called for the suspension of the Constitution to overturn the 2020 election, citing false conspiracy theories about election fraud.

At first blush, this description might sound a tad overdramatic. It is not. On Saturday morning, the former American president — a man who literally swore an oath to “preserve, protect, and defend” the Constitution — re-embraced tired conspiracy theories and asked a familiar question: “[D]o you throw the Presidential Election Results of 2020 OUT and declare the RIGHTFUL WINNER, or do you have a NEW ELECTION?”

The Republican then went further, pushing a line he’s never openly espoused before now: “A Massive Fraud of this type and magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution.” The same missive included an assertion that the “Founders” would agree with him.


In other words, the former president — and the current frontrunner for the GOP’s 2024 presidential nomination — not only expects the public to take his bizarre conspiracy theories seriously, he also believes our Constitution should be subverted in pursuit of his ridiculous ideas.

In this model, Trump sees the rule of law and our system of government as inconvenient niceties, to be discarded when inconvenient.

The Washington Post’s Ruth Marcus responded in her latest column, “This is insurrectionism by social media. Nothing — and certainly not imaginary ‘Fraud,’ capitalized or not — ‘allows for the termination’ of constitutional guarantees. Trump is laying the groundwork for a coup.”

The Biden White House does not make a habit of denouncing every dumb comment from the former president, but the Democratic administration made an exception in this instance. “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 in a statement, describing the Constitution as “sacrosanct.”

“You cannot only love America when you win,” he added.

All of which brings us to a familiar question: Will Republicans have the courage to criticize Trump for his willingness to reject our constitutional system?

To be sure, some of the former president’s intra-party critics — which is to say, Reps. Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney — had no qualms about this. The outgoing Illinois congressman denounced Trump’s message as “insane,” while the outgoing Wyoming congresswoman wrote, “No honest person can now deny that Trump is an enemy of the Constitution.”

But some of their GOP colleagues were far more circumspect. On CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Republican Rep. Mike Turner was willing to say he “vehemently disagrees” with the former president’s statement, but the Ohio congressman would not directly answer a question about whether Trump was wrong to publish such rhetoric.

Around the same time, Republican Rep. David Joyce of Ohio, ostensibly one of his conference’s more mainstream members, was dismissive of Trump’s “fantasy” of suspending the Constitution on ABC’s “This Week,” but Joyce wouldn’t go further, arguing that “people were not interested in looking backwards.” He also wouldn’t rule out supporting Trump’s 2024 candidacy.

GOP leaders from both chambers did not issue statements and did not respond to media requests for comment.

There’s still a contingent within Republican politics that likes to throw around the phrase “constitutional conservatives.” The next time it comes up, keep this story in mind — and try to resist the urge to laugh.