On Thursday Donald Trump met with dozens of Republican Congressmen and party officials to calm the nerves of the party about Trump’s candidacy. Rep. Mark Sanford (R-South Carolina) told The Washington Post that Trump’s speech “was the normal stream of consciousness that’s long on hyperbole and short on facts. At one point, somebody asked about Article I powers: What will you do to protect them? I think his response was, ‘I want to protect Article I, Article II, Article XII,’ going down the list. There is no Article XII.”
House Republicans have been concerned about Article I of the Constitution lately, as they fear that Presidential executive actions could erode the powers granted to Congress, and prompted this question. It is unlikely that they expected a vow from Trump to protect Amendment XII of the Constitution, as the US Constitution only has seven Articles.
There are three possibilities here.
- Donald Trump doesn’t actually know how many Articles the Constitution has. This seems possible, as he is often voiced support for likely unconstitutional measures like banning Muslims from entering the country, picking judges based on racial heritage, and doesn’t really seem like the kind of guy to do his homework before blundering into a job.
- Donald Trump confused Article XII with Amendment XII. Also possible, though unlikely as he was specifically asked about the first Article, not an amendment. This doesn’t really make sense as Amendment XII deals with the structuring of the Electoral College.
- Donald Trump was making a bad joke. This seems the most likely to me. Trump was joking that he would protect all the Articles, even the ones that don’t exist. If he was making a joke, it seems in bad taste as his fitness for and knowledge of the Presidency have come under a great deal of scrutiny.
In any case, this off the cuff comment raises more grave doubts about Donald Trump’s knowledge of even the most basic tenets of the Constitution that he would swear to defend and enforce.