Former President Donald Trump fueled controversy over the weekend by suggesting that parts of the U.S. Constitution should face "termination."
As CBS News correspondent Robert Costa reports, it was just the latest in a series of words and deeds from the former leader that have Republicans grasping for how to respond to a man who still commands significant public support, but whose extreme views continue to drift further away from mainstream American politics.
Trump's latest comments, issued Saturday in a post on his "Truth Social" media platform, came in response to a report by journalist Matt Taibbi that showed Twitter employees deliberating in October 2020 about how to handle a New York Post article about a laptop belonging to President Biden's son Hunter Biden. Taibbi reported that both the Biden campaign and the Trump White House had communicated with Twitter about content on the platform.
Trump claimed the conversations between Twitter and political officials had revealed "a massive fraud" so serious that it "allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution."
Trump also called again for a redo of the 2020 election, renewing his false claim to have won the vote. Trump has kept up a steady drumbeat of false statements about that election, despite his own officials telling him, and the nation, months ago that it was not "stolen," as he claims.
His rhetoric drew immediate, sharp condemnation from Democrats, with New York Senator Chuck Schumer calling Trump "out of control and a danger to our democracy."
Some Republicans were also critical, including Representative–elect Mike Lawler of New York, who said on CNN that he "certainly" did not "endorse that language or that sentiment."
"I vehemently disagree with, with the statement that Trump has made," GOP Rep. Mike Turner of Ohio said on CBS' "Face the Nation," calling it one of "1,000 statements in which I disagree" with the former president.
But any political cost for Trump, as he ramps up his 2024 presidential campaign, remained unclear as some GOP members appeared to be taking a wait-and-see approach.
Rep. David Joyce, a Republican from Ohio, said on ABC News that he would "support whoever the Republican nominee is... and I just don't think that, at this point, he [Trump] will be able to get there."
Even Turner, who said he "absolutely" condemned the latest remarks from Trump, stressed that "there is a political process that has to go forward before anybody's a front-runner or anybody is a, even the candidate for the party... I believe, answering your question, that people certainly are going to take into consideration a statement like this as they evaluate a candidate."
The latest firestorm comes as the Republican Party continues dealing with the fallout from a recent dinner that Trump hosted with white nationalist Nick Fuentes and Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West, who has made a litany of antisemitic comments.
That dinner, and Trump's post about the constitution on social media, have left his party grappling with how to handle his attempted political comeback. And it all comes as Trump faces multiple federal and state investigations, and as the House's January 6th committee prepares to issue a sweeping report that will shine a light on the former president's conduct during the attack on the capitol.
Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Democrat and one of the leading members of that committee, told CBS News on Sunday that the report could form the basis of a prosecution of Trump, "a guy who would not take no for an answer from the American people and set about to overthrow an election."