McCaskill: Founding Fathers ‘Maniacal’ for Wanting Separation of Powers

• July 14, 2016 9:14 am


Sen. Claire McCaskill (D., Mo.) called the Founding Fathers of the United States "a little maniacal" in their focus on having a separation of powers during an appearance Thursday on Morning Joe.

McCaskill, a Hillary Clinton supporter, said while criticizing Donald Trump that the country should not be divided and pointed to the rancor in Congress as proof of the problem.

"We have trouble on Capitol Hill unifying," she said. "I think the Republican Party is in charge on Capitol Hill, and they’re really split in their ranks. I mean, I think Paul Ryan is having a very difficult time with his caucus. I just see in the Republican Senate that Mitch McConnell can’t—"

Host Joe Scarborough cut in to note her criticism was focusing solely on the GOP and ignoring the Democrats.

"You’re just talking about the Republicans and the Republican candidate for president. Is this just a problem of one party?" Scarborough asked. "Or is this a problem of a system that just has been divisive long before Donald Trump even became a Republican?"

McCaskill then criticized America’s founders for putting in place a stronger separation of powers system than most other countries have.

"Well, part of the problem is that our framers were a little maniacal in that if you look at other democracies around the world, when one party wins the congressional branch, they take the executive branch," McCaskill said. "Not in our country."

Scarborough cut in again to say she had provided the "quote of the day for Twitter" with that one.

There is no requirement in the Constitution that the executive and legislative branches must be held by different parties. For example, when Barack Obama won the presidency in 2008, he also retained Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress.

"Our Founding Fathers were a little maniacal," Scarborough repeated, as co-host Mika Brzezinski laughed.

"Well, they were!" McCaskill said. "They wanted us to have a divided government if the American people wanted to do that, and that’s different. And if Donald Trump would bother to read the Constitution, he would understand that that means there’s a special obligation to try to unite."

Scarborough remarked sardonically that James Madison’s "maniacal" focus on a separation of powers was meant to protect against possible dictators, something critics have charged Trump as potentially being.