Weld is the first Republican to challenge Trump for the Republican nomination, and he’s the first Republican to challenge an incumbent president in the same party since Pat Buchanan challenged President George H.W. Bush in 1992.
Weld focused mostly on the details revealed in the redacted report from special counsel Robert Mueller, which Trump initially said exonerated him of any criminal wrongdoing, then later claimed statements in the investigation on Russian interference in the 2016 campaign were “fabricated & totally untrue.”
“Trump claimed with his usual arrogance and ignorance that he has been vindicated,” Weld wrote in the op-ed. “In truth, the Mueller report revealed that Trump is a one-man crime wave.”
Weld repeatedly referred to Trump as a liar and accused him of using the “power of the Oval Office to protect himself and his associates from the consequences of their actions.”
The former governor said the only protection Trump had from becoming a criminal is the intervention of his White House aides “who derailed his criminal conspiracies by distracting the president, or simply ignoring him.”
In the redacted report, Mueller’s team said they didn’t find sufficient evidence that Trump’s presidential campaign conspired with the Russian government during the 2016 election. However, the report also didn’t exonerate Trump from accusations of obstructing justice by interfering with Mueller’s investigation. The special counsel looked at 10 instances in which Trump may have obstructed justice, but Mueller declined to make a determination on it.
“Fortunately, Bob Mueller was able to do his job despite Trump’s constant interference,” Weld wrote in The Bulwark. “But it is worth noting that those aides who pushed back against Trump’s worst instincts have since been pushed out of the White House.”
Weld was the Libertarian Party’s vice presidential nominee during the 2016 election, though he had expressed his support for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. At that time, he also expressed his concern over a Trump presidency, noting once on MSNBC that Trump’s campaign stirred up “ambient resentment and even hatred.”
On Wednesday, Weld didn’t offer his opinion on whether Trump’s potential obstruction warranted impeachment, saying that was up to “the purview of the House of Representatives.”
He did suggest that the U.S. would be better off with Vice President Mike Pence taking the reins in the Oval Office.
“So, the question is a basic one,” Weld said in the closing of his op-ed. “Is Donald Trump truly an American patriot?”