Trump’s Constitution remarks put McConnell, GOP on defense

Dec 5, 2022, 10:57 PM | Updated: Dec 7, 2022, 10:36 am
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, of Ky., arrives for a news conference with members of the S...

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, of Ky., arrives for a news conference with members of the Senate Republican leadership, Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

              Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, of Ky., speaks during a news conference with members of the Senate Republican leadership, Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
              Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, of Ky., arrives for a news conference with members of the Senate Republican leadership, Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell delivered another rebuke of former President Donald Trump on Tuesday, saying that anyone who thinks the Constitution can be suspended would have a “very hard time” becoming president in the United States.

The comment marked the second time in as many weeks that McConnell and other Republicans have been compelled to denounce Trump’s words and actions since the former president announced he is running again for the presidency in 2024.

It’s a dynamic that vexed the GOP throughout Trump’s first campaign and presidency, but one that has taken on a less forgiving tone now that Trump is facing the prospect of a competitive primary and top Republican strategists and fundraisers increasingly say the party would be best served by moving on.

“Let me just say that anyone seeking the presidency who thinks the Constitution can somehow be suspended or not followed, it seems to me, would have a very hard time being sworn in as President of the United States,” McConnell said at the Capitol.

McConnell was responding to Trump’s stunningly anti-Democratic statement Saturday following revelations of what he cast as Twitter’s unfair treatment of him during the 2020 presidential election that he lost to Joe Biden. Trump, who has repeatedly called for the election to be overturned, wrote on his social media app, “A Massive Fraud of this type and magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution.”

McConnell’s words Tuesday were nearly identical to those he used last week, when he also opened his weekly press conference preemptively responding to questions about the former president’s behavior after Trump’s dinner with a white nationalist Holocaust denier and a rapper who has made a series of antisemitic statements.

The senator said then that there was “no room in the Republican Party for antisemitism or white supremacy,” adding, “Anyone meeting with people advocating that point of view, in my judgment, are highly unlikely to ever be elected president of the United States.”

Reaction from other Republicans has also been critical, even as many GOP officials remain unwilling to directly confront Trump, who remains popular with the party’s base.

Speaking Tuesday in South Carolina, Mike Pence, Trump’s former vice president, said that “anyone who serves in public office, anyone who aspires to serve in public office or serve again in public office should make it clear that they will support and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Pence, who is widely expected to challenge Trump for the 2024 nomination, added that while he believes Americans are eager for a return to the policies of the Trump White House, “I really do believe that they want to move on to leadership that shows respect for our greatest traditions and respect for Americans, whatever their viewpoint.”

On Monday, Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., said in a tweeted statement: “Anyone who desires to lead our country must commit to protecting the Constitution. They should not threaten to terminate it.”

“I don’t think there was an escape clause to not defend the Constitution,” added Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.

McConnell, as the Republican leader trying to steer his party in a post-Trump era, faces an endless task of reacting to the former president’s outbursts. The two men have not spoken since McConnell agreed to the Electoral College tally for Biden at the end of 2020, and Trump has repeatedly lashed out at McConnell at rallies and in social media posts, calling for his ouster.

Still, McConnell deflected questions Tuesday over whether he could support Trump if he becomes the Republican Party’s 2024 presidential nominee.

Instead, the Senate GOP leader reiterated the difficulty of taking the oath, which requires the president-elect to defend the Constitution.

“It would be pretty hard to be sworn into the presidency if you’re not willing to uphold the Constitution,” McConnell said.

Trump’s Saturday embrace of authoritarianism is the latest controversy in a young campaign that has thus far included no public events and no travel to early-voting states. Instead, It has been dominated by the backlash to his dinner with the artist previously known as Kanye West and Nick Fuentes, a known white nationalist and Holocaust denier. Trump has said he was unaware of who Fuentes was when they met.

Trump received another setback Tuesday when his namesake company was convicted of tax fraud for helping executives dodge taxes on lavish perks such as Manhattan apartments and luxury cars, in a significant repudiation of financial practices at the former president’s business.

While Trump himself was not on trial, a jury found two corporate entities at the Trump Organization guilty on all 17 counts, including conspiracy charges and falsifying business records.

Republicans have been unable to firmly reject Trump as their potential nominee even as many of them try to distance themselves from his recent activities.

House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy, who is in line to become the House speaker when Republicans take control in the new year, has yet to respond to Trump, but told reporters at the Capitol he fully supports the Constitution.

Republican Rep. Liz Cheney, a staunch Trump critic, tweeted directly at McCarthy to denounce Trump’s statement.

“This week Trump said we should terminate all rules, regulations etc ‘even those in the Constitution’ to overturn the election. Are you so utterly without principle that you won’t condemn this either?” she asked.

White House spokesperson Andrew Bates also took issue with some members’ silence. “Asking Members of Congress to reaffirm their oath of office and uphold the Constitution should not be a heavy lift,” he said in a statement. “Congressional Republicans need to do that immediately, instead of repeatedly refusing to answer the most basic question.”


Associated Press writers Meg Kinnard in Rock Hill, South Carolina, and Jill Colvin in New York contributed to this report.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Ex-pop star Gary Glitter freed from UK prison

LONDON (AP) — Former pop star Gary Glitter was released from prison in England on Friday after serving half of a 16-year prison sentence for sexually abusing three young girls in the 1970s. The 79-year-old singer, whose real name is Paul Gadd, was freed from a prison in Dorset, in southwest England. It is common […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

World Health Organization employee released in Mali

BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — A World Health Organization employee was released in northern Mali after being abducted by unidentified assailants, a spokesperson said Friday. Dr. Mahamadou Diawara was freed Thursday afternoon and is in Gao town, Abdoulaye Cisse, communication officer for the WHO in Mali told The Associated Press. “We are conducting the formalities to […]
1 day ago
Rebecca Mwenda, wife to Josphert Mwenda who was murdered alongside human rights lawyer Willy Kimani...
Associated Press

Former Kenyan policeman sentenced to death for murder

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — A Kenyan former policeman was sentenced to death on Friday for the murder of a human rights lawyer, his client and a taxi driver. Frederick Leliman and three others were convicted of carrying out the murders in 2016, in one of a series of cases of alleged police brutality and extrajudicial […]
1 day ago
FILE - A Leopard 1 tank drives in Storkau, Germany, on May 19, 2000. Ukraine may be able to add old...
Associated Press

Ukraine may also get old Leopard 1 tanks from German stocks

BERLIN (AP) — Ukraine could add old Leopard 1 battle tanks from German defense industry stocks to deliveries of modern tanks that Berlin and other governments pledged last week to counter Russian forces in the war. German government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit confirmed Friday that “export authorization has been granted” but declined to give numbers or […]
1 day ago
FILE - President Barack Obama, left, and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev sign the New START treat...
Associated Press

NATO urges Russia to respect nuclear pact with the US

BRUSSELS (AP) — NATO called Friday on Russia to respect the only treaty it has with the United States aimed at keeping a lid on nuclear weapons expansion and urged Moscow to allow on-the-ground inspections of military sites to resume. The so-called New START Treaty was signed by Russia and the U.S. in 2010. It […]
1 day ago
This undated photo released by the Crown Prosecution Service on Friday Feb. 3, 2023, shows a crossb...
Associated Press

UK man admits treason over crossbow plot against queen

LONDON (AP) — A man who was arrested on the grounds of Windsor Castle with a loaded crossbow pleaded guilty to treason on Friday for planning to attack Queen Elizabeth II. Jaswant Singh Chail, 21, admitted to a charge under the Treason Act of intending to “injure the person of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Trump’s Constitution remarks put McConnell, GOP on defense