GOP senators on Monday criticized Donald Trump’s statement over the weekend claiming the Constitution can be terminated to reinstate him as president, though most did not extend their repudiations to his 2024 candidacy.
Senate Republicans who weighed in on Trump’s remarks on Truth Social from Saturday focused more on the importance of upholding the Constitution.
“Well, I think you take an oath to the Constitution, you don’t take it provisionally,” said Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri, a member of Senate GOP leadership who is retiring early next month. “And I can’t imagine that a former president would make that statement.”
Asked about Trump’s remark, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, an adviser to Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell, said, “I don’t know why anybody would say something like that, certainly not an ex-president. I think that’s irresponsible.”
But when asked if Trump’s statement should disqualify him from another White House bid, Cornyn said, “Well, it’s not clear who’s gonna run,” before adding, “I mean, I guess he is [running] until he isn’t.”
In a post to his Truth Social platform, Trump suggested terminating the Constitution to put him back in power, referring to false claims of widespread election fraud in 2020.
“A Massive Fraud of this type and magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution,” Trump wrote.
Trump’s post followed Twitter CEO Elon Musk’s promotion on Friday of a series tweets that he said exposed “free speech suppression” by revealing internal documents showing how the company dealt with a New York Post article about Hunter Biden in 2020.
Reactions to Trump’s post on Capitol Hill were reminiscent of his four years in office, when many GOP lawmakers often walked a fine line of trying to distance themselves from his remarks without becoming a target of Trump and his base of supporters.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who was among the few Senate Republicans who voted to convict Trump during his second impeachment trial in 2020, tweeted Monday that his remark was an “affront” to the nation.
“Suggesting the termination of the Constitution is not only a betrayal of our Oath of Office, it’s an affront to our Republic,” she wrote.
Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, who also voted to convict Trump, said the Republican Party has historically represented “the party of the Constitution,” which put the former president’s comments into conflict with being a Republican.
“When President Trump says he wants to suspend the Constitution, he goes from being MAGA to being RINO,” Romney said, using the acronym for Republican in name only.
Romney added that he doesn’t think Trump’s comments will affect his chances of winning the GOP nomination in 2024.
Sen. Mike Rounds, meanwhile, tied Trump’s remarks to his 2024 ambitions.
“Anyone who desires to lead our country must commit to protecting the Constitution. They should not threaten to terminate it,” the South Dakota Republican said in a statement.
Some GOP senators, including Rick Scott of Florida and Josh Hawley of Missouri, said the electorate should determine if Trump’s remarks were disqualifying.
“I think the voters get to decide those things,” Scott said, with Hawley saying “I’ll leave that to the voters to decide.”
GOP Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas called the Constitution “enduring, and it will be for millennia to come,” but did not respond when asked by reporters if Trump’s remark was disqualifying.
McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, as well as the Republican National Committee, have yet to comment on Trump’s post. NBC News earlier reached out to all three for comment.
McConnell told reporters Monday that he plans to respond Tuesday during his weekly remarks.
McCarthy late last month said that House Republicans would be putting the Constitution front and center under their majority, starting on the first day of the new Congress.
“On the very first day of the new Republican-led Congress, we will read every single word of the Constitution aloud from the floor of the House—something that hasn’t been done in years,” he tweeted on Nov. 25.
In a statement Sunday, White House spokesman Andrew Bates said that attacking the Constitution was “anathema to the soul of our nation and should be universally condemned.”