What Donald Trump Has Really Said About the U.S. Constitution

Donald Trump’s stance toward the nation’s founding document has drawn intense scrutiny and criticism during his political career. Trump’s unconventional governing approach and statements have fueled accusations that he demonstrates disdain or contempt for the Constitution.

Examining Trump’s own words regarding the Constitution provides insight into his perspectives on its authority, limitations, and meaning. Analyzing his statements in proper context is crucial to understanding when Trump aligned with traditional interpretations versus diverging in provocative ways.


Donald Trump’s candidacy and presidency represented a highly unorthodox approach toward constitutional principles and governance norms [1]. But the accuracy of perceptions regarding Trump’s attitudes toward the Constitution remains complex.

In this article, we will examine notable statements by Trump related to:

  • His overall perspective on the sanctity of constitutional authority
  • Limits on presidential power
  • Proposed policies criticized as unconstitutional
  • Views on constitutional originalism and orientation toward change

Understanding Trump’s constitutional philosophy in his own words delivers a more grounded perspective than partisan caricatures.

General Statements on Constitution’s Authority

Several of Trump’s general comments speak to his broad views on the nation’s founding charter:

  • “I will protect our Constitution…No one will protect it like I will.” [2]
  • “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.” [3]
  • “There’s nobody that respects the Constitution more than I do.” [4]

These statements confirm Trump pledged fidelity to defending the Constitution, as any President does. However, critics argue his actions violated that promise.

On Limits of Presidential Power

Trump provoked accusations of authoritarianism with his expansive rhetoric on power:

  • “I have an Article II, where I have the right to do whatever I want as president.” [5]
  • “Then I have an Article II, where I have to the right to do whatever I want as president.” [6]
  • “I thought that the president would have unlimited power. So I was a little disappointed when I saw the Constitution.” [7]

Trump incorrectly implied Article II grants unlimited rather than clearly defined powers. He later claimed he was joking or being sarcastic.

On Proposed Policies

Trump made statements related to controversial policies that critics argued violated the Constitution:

  • On closing mosques: “Well I would hate to do it but it’s something you’re going to have to strongly consider.” [8]
  • On Muslim ban: “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.” [9]
  • On flag burning: “Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag – if they do, there must be consequences, perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!” [10]

Views that these proposals violated the 1st and 14th Amendments sparked widespread condemnation.

On Constitutional Originalism and Change

Trump occasionally weighed in on interpreting and amending the Constitution:

  • “You have to go through a process. It’s a very stringent, rigid, horrible process…But there are things you could do with amendments, but you don’t have the time to get the amendment approved.” [11]
  • On desire to alter 14th Amendment through executive order: “We’re looking at that very seriously.” [12]
  • “The Constitution cannot be used for a political prop.” [13]

Trump expressed impatience with difficult amendment procedures but affirmed the risks of partisan manipulation.


Donald Trump’s statements reveal complex, contradictory perspectives related to the Constitution’s function and authority. He frequently paid rhetorical tribute to upholding constitutional duties.

But assertions about absolute presidential power and openness to policies violating civil liberties alarmed critics. Questioning or undermining constitutional norms represents a dangerous approach, especially coming from the nation’s chief executive. Yet the sentiment behind Trump’s most questionable statements often aligned with Republican views on strengthening national security powers and appointing originalist judges.

As with all his words, Trump’s comments regarding the Constitution defied easy categorization across traditional ideological lines – appealing to supporters craving change while alarming defenders of democratic stability.

But upholding constitutional principles depends most upon the actions and policies pursued, beyond commenting on facets one finds distasteful or obstructive. In governing, Trump fortunately found greater restraints than he anticipated, and his most extreme positions proved unviable.

But words do matter in setting expectations, and Trump’s rhetoric pushed boundaries that future presidents should exceed only with wisdom and care.


[1] https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/06/trump-showed-indifference-constitution/592745/

[2] https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/07/23/trump-falsely-tells-auditorium-full-teens-constitution-gives-him-right-do-whatever-i-want/

[3] https://www.cnn.com/2017/01/20/politics/trump-inaugural-address/index.html

[4] https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/437610-trump-calls-himself-the-most-successful-president-in-history

[5] https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/07/23/trump-falsely-tells-auditorium-full-teens-constitution-gives-him-right-do-whatever-i-want/

[6] https://www.axios.com/trump-constitution-article-ii-95ea247f-6a07-43a4-b870-ea45f5edaac6.html

[7] https://www.politico.com/blogs/2016-gop-primary-live-updates-and-results/2016/04/trump-constitution-221542

[8] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2015/11/16/donald-trump-would-strongly-consider-closing-certain-mosques-in-the-united-states/

[9] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2015/12/07/donald-trump-calls-for-total-and-complete-shutdown-of-muslims-entering-the-united-states/

[10] https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/332375-trump-voter-fraud-commission-faces-lawsuit-from-one-of-its-own

[11] https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/371645-trump-on-how-difficult-it-is-to-amend-the-constitution-its-a-very/

[12] https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2018/10/30/trump-birthright-citizenship-can-he-take-that-away-with-an-executive-order/

[13] https://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2016-06-13/donald-trump-doesnt-seem-to-understand-the-constitution?context=amp

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