Ralph Norman Only Regrets Misspelling 'Martial' In 'Marshall Law' Text

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WASHINGTON — Rep. Ralph Norman’s biggest regret about urging the Donald Trump White House to declare martial law so Trump could remain in office seems to be that he did so with bad spelling.

The South Carolina Republican texted White House chief of staff Mark Meadows on Jan. 17, 2021, that Trump should declare “Marshall Law” to prevent Joe Biden from taking office.

Meadows handed an archive of his texts to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot. Talking Points Memo obtained the Meadows texts and published them this week.

Asked about the text on Tuesday, Norman said, “Well, I misspelled ‘martial.’”

Declaring martial law would entail Trump using the military to suspend ordinary laws and civil liberties and install himself in power.

“I was very frustrated then, I’m frustrated now,” Norman told HuffPost. “I was frustrated then by what was going on in the Capitol. President Biden was in his basement the whole year. Dominion was raising all kinda questions.”

The text to Meadows said, “Mark, in seeing what’s happening so quickly, and reading about the Dominion law suits attempting to stop any meaningful investigation we are at a point of ... no return ... in saving our Republic !! Our LAST HOPE is invoking Marshall Law!! PLEASE URGE TO PRESIDENT TO DO SO!!”

It’s not clear whether Meadows responded to the message. Norman wouldn’t say if he got a reply.

On Wednesday, after this story was initially published, White House spokesman Andrew Bates responded with a statement.

“Plotting against the rule of law and to subvert the will of the people is a disgusting affront to our deepest principles as a country,” Bates said. “We all, regardless of party, need to stand up for mainstream values and the Constitution, against dangerous, ultra MAGA conspiracy theories and violent rhetoric.”

Instead of declaring martial law, Trump tried to get state legislatures to throw out their vote counts, tried to get the Justice Department to seize control of voting machines and incited a mob to attack the Capitol to prevent Congress from certifying Biden’s victory.

The various schemes ultimately failed. Norman sent his text after the House had impeached Trump for inciting an insurrection and three days before Biden’s inauguration.

The Meadows texts show that Norman and many other Republicans offered help and advice throughout the president’s attempt to remain in power despite losing the 2020 election.

Rep. Majorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) reportedly texted Meadows the same day Norman did, offering the same advice and same misspelling.

“In our private chat with only Members, several are saying the only way to save our Republic is for Trump to call for Marshall law,” Greene texted on Jan. 17, 2021, according to CNN. “I don’t know on those things. I just wanted you to tell him. They stole this election. We all know. They will destroy our country next. Please tell him to declassify as much as possible so we can go after Biden and anyone else!”

Greene joked this week that if she had organized the riot at the Capitol, “we would have won.”

A U.S. president hasn’t declared martial law directly, on behalf of the federal government, since the Civil War, according to a 2005 report from the Congressional Research Service. But there have been limited regional martial law declarations, established with explicit or implicit support of the president, mostly related to labor disputes.

Trump said last week that the supposed fraud of the 2020 election “allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution.” Norman said he doubted that Trump made such a statement.

HuffPost pressed Norman on whether he really thought the president should declare martial law.

“I was frustrated at the time with everything that was happening,” he said. “It was a private text between a friend and myself, nothing more, nothing less.”