Repeating his thoroughly disproven claim that the 2020 election was stolen, former President Donald Trump called Saturday for discarding the U.S. Constitution to overturn his defeat.
In response, pro-democracy advocates argued that Trump's comments, other recent actions and the refusal of GOP lawmakers to denounce them are reflective of the Republican Party's growing support for right-wing authoritarianism.
In a viral post on his Truth Social platform, Trump wrote:
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? 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!
"Employees on Twitter's legal, policy, and communications teams debated — and at times disagreed — over whether to restrict the article under the company's hacked materials policy," the news outlet noted. "The debate took place weeks before the 2020 election, when Joe Biden, Hunter Biden's father, was running against then-President Trump."
The administration of President Biden, who defeated Trump by more than seven million votes and 74 Electoral College votes, quickly responded. In a statement rebuking Trump, White House spokesperson Andrew Bates said:
The American Constitution is a sacrosanct document that for over 200 years has guaranteed that freedom and the rule of law prevail in our great country. The Constitution brings the American people together — regardless of party — and elected leaders swear to uphold it. It's the ultimate monument to all of the Americans who have given their lives to defeat self-serving despots that abused their power and trampled on fundamental rights. Attacking the Constitution and all it stands for is anathema to the soul of our nation, and should be universally condemned. You cannot only love America when you win.
By contrast, Rep. Dave Joyce, R-Ohio, told ABC's "This Week" anchor George Stephanopoulos on Sunday that Trump's post conveying his support for overthrowing the Constitution was not a deal-breaker. The twice-impeached president officially launched his 2024 campaign last month.
"I will support whoever the Republican nominee is," said Joyce, chair of the influential Republican Governance Group.
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When Stephanopoulos expressed disbelief that he would "support a candidate who's come out for suspending the Constitution," Joyce said: "He says a lot of things. ... I can't be really chasing every one of these crazy statements that come out about from any of these candidates at the moment."
Pushing back again, Stephanopoulos asked, "You can't come out against someone who's for suspending the Constitution?"
Joyce responded: "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 backward."
"Last week the leader of the Republican Party had dinner with a Nazi leader and a man who called Adolf Hitler 'great.' Yesterday Trump called for throwing out the Constitution and making himself dictator."
Joyce's remarks are symptomatic of Republican lawmakers' refusal to censure Trump, who remains the de facto leader of the party even after his backing of election deniers weakened the GOP's midterm performance and despite his increasingly open penchant for autocracy and bigotry.
"Last week the leader of the Republican Party had dinner with a Nazi leader and a man who called Adolf Hitler 'great,'" Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., D-N.J., tweeted on Sunday, referring to Trump's recent meeting with white nationalist and Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes and antisemitic rapper Kanye West.
"Yesterday Trump called for throwing out the Constitution and making himself dictator," Pascrell added. "Republicans' full embrace of fascism is the story."
Just days ago, Trump reiterated his support for the far-right insurrectionists who participated in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, saying in a video played during a fundraiser that "people have been treated unconstitutionally in my opinion and very, very unfairly, and we're going to get to the bottom of it."
Trump claimed earlier this year that he was "financially supporting" some Jan. 6 defendants and said that if elected, he would "look very, very favorably" at full pardons for those being prosecuted. More than 950 people have been charged so far, including two leaders of the far-right Oath Keepers militia who were convicted last week of seditious conspiracy. In the immediate aftermath of Trump's failed coup, 147 congressional Republicans voted to reverse Biden's victory.
In an essay published Saturday, historian Heather Cox Richardson wrote that Trump's social media post "seems to reflect desperation from the former president as his political star fades and the many legal suits proceeding against him get closer and closer to their end dates."
"But the real story here is not Trump's panic about his fading relevance and his legal exposure," the Boston College professor argued. "It's that Trump remains the presumptive presidential nominee for the Republican Party in 2024. The leader of the Republican Party has just called for the overthrow of our fundamental law and the installation of a dictator."
"Republicans, so far, are silent on Trump's profound attack on the Constitution, the basis of our democratic government," she added. "That is the story, and it is Earth-shattering."
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