“Centrist” Republican still willing to support Trump after he calls to terminate the Constitution

"He says a lot of things," said Rep. Dave Joyce, dismissing Trump's statement as a "fantasy"

By Igor Derysh

Managing Editor

Published December 5, 2022 9:21AM (EST)

Rep. David Joyce, R-Ohio, speaks during the House Republican Conference news conference in the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, July 19, 2022.  (Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
Rep. David Joyce, R-Ohio, speaks during the House Republican Conference news conference in the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, July 19, 2022. (Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

A top House Republican on Sunday told ABC News that former President Donald Trump's call to terminate the Constitution is not a deal-breaker in the 2024 election.

Trump made the statement on Truth Social after the release of internal Twitter emails about the company's decision to ban a New York Post article about Hunter Biden's laptop.

"So, with the revelation of MASSIVE & WIDESPREAD FRAUD & DECEPTION in working closely with Big Tech Companies, the DNC, & the Democrat Party, do you throw the Presidential Election Results of 2020 OUT and declare the RIGHTFUL WINNER, or do you have a NEW ELECTION?" Trump wrote. "A Massive Fraud of this type and magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution. Our great 'Founders' did not want, and would not condone, False & Fraudulent Elections!"

Republican lawmakers have stayed largely silent on the statement, according to the Washington Post, but Rep. Dave Joyce, R-Ohio, the chairman of the centrist Republican Governance Group, told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos that he would still be willing to support Trump in the 2024 election if he wins the GOP nomination.

"It's early. I think there's going to be a lot of people in the primary ... [but] I will support whoever the Republican nominee is," he said, adding that he did not think Trump will win because there are "a lot of other good quality candidates out there."

"That's a remarkable statement," Stephanopoulos replied. "You just said you'd support a candidate who's come out for suspending the Constitution."

"Well, you know, he says a lot of things," Joyce said, adding, "I can't be really chasing every one of these crazy statements that come from any of these candidates."

"You can't come out against someone who's for suspending the Constitution?" the host pressed.

"He says a lot of things, but that doesn't mean that it's ever going to happen. So you got to [separate] fact from fantasy -- and fantasy is that we're going to suspend the Constitution and go backwards. We're moving forward," Joyce replied.

Most Republicans have stayed silent on the matter, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who previously said that Republicans would read every word of the Constitution aloud when the party takes control of the chamber in January.

Some Trump loyalists tried to play cleanup without going on the record. One anonymous Republican operative close to Trump told the Washington Post that the statement "did not literally advocate or call for terminating the Constitution."

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"He's making a comparison of the unprecedented nature of Big Tech meddling in the 2020 election to benefit Joe Biden with the unprecedented act of terminating the Constitution," the operative said.

Some Republicans did go further in condemning the former president's statement, including Rep. Michael Turner, R-Ohio, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, who told CBS News he "absolutely" disagrees with the statement.

"I, first of all, vehemently disagree with the statement that Trump has made," he said. "Trump has made 1,000 statements in which I disagree."

Trump's Republican critics also slammed the statement.

"No honest person can now deny that Trump is an enemy of the Constitution," tweeted Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo.

"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," wrote Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill. "This is insane. Trump hates the constitution."

The White House also issued a statement condemning the former president's remarks.

"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 told The Washington Post, adding that "you cannot only love America when you win."

Harvard Law Prof. Laurence Tribe said that Trump was "openly shrieking in desperation that anything that stands in the way of his becoming all-powerful ought to be swept away."

"It's a distinctive statement. It sort of says the quiet part out loud — that he has no reverence for the country, for anything other than himself," Tribe told the Post. "This is like saying, 'You want to see an insurrection? I'll show you an insurrection. I'll just tear the whole thing up.'"

By Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is Salon's managing editor. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

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