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Donald Trump
Does former President Donald Trump really want to serve three terms? Alex Brandon/AP

‘It’s Hilarious’: House GOP Dismisses Trump’s Third-Term Ideas

“He knows when he makes those offhanded comments that it enraptures the left and the media,” Rep. Matt Gaetz told NOTUS.

Former President Donald Trump is publicly floating a presidency that extends beyond the Constitution’s two-term limit. His allies in Congress say it’s just a big joke.

“He understands the Constitution. He loves it because he knows the Democrats are going to go crazy,” said Republican Study Committee Chair Kevin Hern. “He loves messing with them, and they’re so easy to get riled up, so there’s no way he thinks he’s going to have a third term.”

“I think they have taken the bait, hook, line and sinker,” said Rep. Andrew Clyde. “He’s playing with them and it’s hilarious.”

“What he wants to do is get inflation under control and secure the border,” Rep. Matt Gaetz, who traveled to New York to support Trump during his hush money trial last week, told NOTUS. “He knows when he makes those offhanded comments that enraptures the left and the media.”

“The Constitution clearly states you have two terms,” said Rep. Carlos Gimenez. “He’s not serious about it; for God’s sake, it’s against the Constitution.”

Trump said last month that he does not wish to have a third term and that he “wouldn’t be in favor” of challenging the constitutional amendment limiting presidential terms to two. But this past weekend, he suggested the possibility of an additional four years if he wins the 2024 election.

“You know, FDR 16 years — almost 16 years — he was four terms. I don’t know, are we going to be considered three-term? Or two-term? You tell me,” Trump said at the National Rifle Association annual convention in Dallas, prompting some in the crowd to yell “three!”

This is familiar ground for Trump. During his 2020 reelection campaign, the former president said he deserved more time in the White House because of the 2016 Mueller investigation: “[T]hey spied on my campaign. We should get a redo of four years,” he said at a campaign event in Wisconsin at the time.

The 22nd Amendment of the Constitution, enacted after FDR’s four terms, limits the presidency to two terms. It would take congressional action to repeal the amendment, and so far, his allies on Capitol Hill think that’s not going to happen.

The Biden campaign seized on Trump’s comments shortly after he made them, arguing he wants to “violate the Constitution by running for a third term.” This response is part of a larger effort by both the campaign and the overall Democratic Party to paint the former president as a threat to democracy.

“He has told us who he is and what he will do. He told us that he would pack the court to get rid of a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions, and that’s exactly what he did,” Democratic Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar told reporters during a Wednesday press conference. “The erosion of democratic norms is very clear.”

Rep. Veronica Escobar, co-chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, told NOTUS that he “is a man with a record of inciting violence.”

“This man is a serious and dangerous threat to our constitutional republic and the future of our democracy, and we should take it very seriously,” Escobar added. “I don’t think we should think anything is outside the realm of possibility, and frankly, I believe if he wins, it will be the last election that we will have.”

When asked about Trump’s third-term comments and how Democrats were reacting to them, House Republicans either laughed or blew it off.

Rep. Cory Mills, another Republican who recently rushed to New York to support the former president, said that “he’s obviously joking, or A-level trolling, so he can get things like this going where people are like, ‘Oh, he said that he was going to be a dictator from day one!’ or ‘Oh, he said three terms!’ I think that everyone just needs to lighten up a bit.”

“I think it’s a silly notion that you bring up. I wish you had a better question,” Rep. Max Miller, a former Trump aide who has said the 2020 election had “a lot of irregularities,” told NOTUS.

The American Conservative, a right-wing magazine that is part of the Project 2025 coalition developing conservative policy ideas for a second Trump administration, published an article supporting the repeal of the 22nd Amendment because of the “limits it places on voter choice.”

While Republicans dismissed the question when asked about the article’s stance, calls to repeal the 22nd Amendment are not new. At least 50 proposed amendments to get rid of the two-term limit have been made, including proposals by now-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in 1995, a 2005 one from former House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and, most recently, one in 2013 by former Democratic Rep. Jose Serrano.

This Congress, though, doesn’t seem to have any interest in repealing the amendment. Rep. Tim Burchett asked some of his Republican colleagues about a third Trump term, “and everybody thought I was crazy,” he told NOTUS.

“I mean, I was just saying, is it possible, because I was trying to figure it out,” Burchett said. Although he ultimately decided that it’s not “constitutionally feasible, and I don’t think it’s going to happen.”

As for why Trump said it, Burchett said it’s because “he knows the left will freak out, and the moderate Republicans who hate him and try to do everything to stab him in the back, it drives them crazy.”

Meanwhile, Trump opponents scoff at Republicans who overlook the former president’s comments.

“You have to take somebody at their word,” said Democratic Rep. Marc Veasey. “People that are just, that are willing to blow it off and be like, ‘Oh my God, that’s not that big of a deal, he’s just joking,’ those people need to stop. … They need to tell him to shut up.”

Oriana González is a reporter at NOTUS.