The White House has condemned Donald Trump after the former president called for the “termination” of the US Constitution.
Trump made the call in a post on Saturday on the social media platform Truth Social, which he owns, as he repeated the false claim that he won the 2020 presidential election.
White House spokesman Andrew Bates said the US Constitution is a “sacrosanct document” that brings the American people together.
“Attacking the Constitution and all it stands for is anathema to the soul of our nation, and should be universally condemned,” Bates said in a statement.
“You cannot only love America when you win,” he said.
Trump, who announced last month that he is running again for president, said his election loss warranted drastic moves.
“A Massive Fraud of this type and magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution,” he wrote. “Our great ‘Founders’ did not want, and would not condone, False & Fraudulent Elections!”
Al Jazeera’s Heidi Zhou-Castro, reporting from Washington DC, said Trump’s post is “extraordinary” given that presidents take an oath of office to protect the US Constitution.
“The world at this point is used to the bombastic statements coming from Trump, but this perhaps is considered to cross a new line given that the US Constitution is held in such high esteem.”
“This is the latest in a series of actions that Trump has taken since he announced he wants to run a third time for the president,” Zhou-Castro said. “He has moved closer to extremism in meetings with anti-Semites at Mar-a-Lago and also stating that he would pardon the rioters who stormed the US Capitol on January 6 if he is elected back to the White House.”
The former president has faced rebuke from officials in both the Democratic Party and his own Republican Party.
The incoming Democratic leader in the House of Representatives, Hakeem Jeffries, on Sunday described Trump’s statement as strange and extreme and said Republicans will have to make a choice whether to continue embracing Trump’s anti-democratic views.
“Republicans are going to have to work out their issues with the former president and decide whether they’re going to break from him and return to some semblance of reasonableness or continue to lean into the extremism, not just of Trump, but Trumpism,” Jeffries said.
Trump, who is the first president to be impeached twice and whose term ended with his supporters violently storming the Capitol in a deadly bid to halt the peaceful transition of power on January 6, 2021, faces escalating criminal investigations, including several that could lead to indictments.
They include an inquiry into classified documents seized by the FBI from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate and ongoing state and federal investigations related to efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.
Asked about Trump’s comments on Sunday, Representative Mike Turner of Ohio, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, said he “vehemently” disagrees and “absolutely” condemns the remarks, saying they should be a factor as Republicans decide who should lead their party in 2024.
“There is a political process that has to go forward before anybody is a front-runner or anybody is even the candidate for the party,” he said.
“I believe that people certainly are going to take into consideration a statement like this as they evaluate a candidate,” he added.
Representative-elect Mike Lawler, a Republican from New York, also objected to the remarks, saying it was time to stop focusing on the “grievances of prior elections”.
“The constitution is set for a reason, to protect the rights of every American,” Lawler said. “I think the former president would be well-advised to focus on the future if he is going to run for president again.”
Zhou-Castro says Trump has been doubling down on rhetoric that is worrying to many of his fellow Republicans.
“The Republican leaders have been reacting to Trump’s move towards extremism with concern, hoping that he would not take these measures given the party performed in a way that was underwhelming in the last midterm elections,” she said.