Perhaps we have become inured to Donald Trump saying outrageous things. But we can’t ignore it when Trump suggests the overthrow of the U.S. government, as he did on his social media platform last week.
I and others have repeatedly accused Trump of going too far. But this time he should be drawing condemnation from both liberals and conservatives.
In a post on his social media platform, Truth Social, Trump said that either he should be declared the winner of the 2020 election or that a new election should be held immediately. But there is of course no mechanism in the Constitution to change the outcome of a presidential election two years after it occurred or to hold a new election before 2024.
What is Trump’s answer? End the Constitution.
“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.”
This is a former U.S. president — and a current candidate for that office — declaring that the Constitution should be set aside for his own personal gain.
Two days before his post, on Thursday, Trump indicated that he would issue full pardons and a government apology to the rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and violently attacked police officers in an attempt to stop the transfer of power.
“I mean full pardons with an apology to many,” he told conservative radio host Wendy Bell.
It’s time to seriously consider whether Trump is constitutionally ineligible to serve as president again. Section 3 of the 14th Amendment says that “No person shall … hold any office, civil or military, under the United States … who, having previously taken an oath … as an officer of the United States … to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”
The events of Jan. 6 were unquestionably an insurrection against the country. The work of the Jan. 6 committee and federal prosecutors and courts leave no doubt about this.
Trump played a key role in inciting that insurrection by telling an armed, angry crowd to go to the Capitol and fight. And they did, killing a police officer, threatening Vice President Mike Pence and members of Congress, and vandalizing the Capitol.
Over and over in his speech on Jan. 6, Trump reiterated his false claims of election fraud and told the crowd they must “fight.” He told them his “election victory [was] stolen by emboldened, radical-left Democrats” and that “we will never concede.”
“We will stop the steal,” he said. “We fight like hell. And if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”
Disqualifying someone from running for office, let alone a former president, would be extraordinary, and it’s unclear who would make such a determination under the 14th Amendment. But it must be considered.
The Constitution and American democracy would not survive another four years of Trump being president. We now have Trump’s own words to prove it.
Erwin Chemerinsky is dean and professor of law at the UC Berkeley School of Law.