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North Carolina GOP lawmaker urges Trump to suspend civil liberties to keep power: ‘Invoke the Insurrection Act’

Surrounded by Army cadets, President Trump watches the Army-Navy football game at the United States Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., on Saturday. (Andrew Harnik/AP)
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On Facebook, North Carolina state Sen. Bob Steinburg (R) paraphrased a conservative commentator to make a radical suggestion: President Trump should declare a national emergency, suspend civil rights and remain in power over his baseless claims of election fraud.

Asked by a local TV station on Tuesday whether he stands by those sentiments, Steinburg doubled down, insisting that nefarious forces had corrupted President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.

“There’s something going on here bigger than what anybody is willing to talk about,” Steinburg told WRAL Tuesday evening. “I don’t like conspiracy theories at all. But something is going on here that’s bigger than meets the eye.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Dec. 15 acknowledged Joe Biden as the president-elect from the Senate floor. (Video: The Washington Post)

Steinburg wasn’t alone among GOP lawmakers in suggesting that Trump suspend civil liberties, even after the electoral college finalized Biden’s win on Monday and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) publicly acknowledged the Democrat’s victory on Tuesday. Virginia state Sen. Amanda F. Chase (R) on Tuesday also called for martial law, echoing a suggestion floated by Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser pardoned by the president last month.

The Trump campaign’s claims of mass election fraud have been tossed repeatedly from court, including in a rejection by the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday. Yet Trump has continued spreading baseless rumors on Twitter and falsely insisting that he won the election.

Steinburg, who recently won reelection to his state Senate seat in North Carolina, wrote an inflammatory Facebook post on Tuesday quoting an interview with retired Air Force lieutenant general Thomas McInerney earlier this month.

“President Trump must declare a national emergency,” the 72-year-old state senator wrote in the post, which has since been deleted. “Trump should also invoke the Insurrection Act.”

The Insurrection Act, which was signed into law by President Thomas Jefferson in 1807, would allow the president to deploy military forces on U.S. soil.

Steinburg also suggested in the Facebook post that the president suspend habeas corpus, which allows people to challenge unlawful imprisonment, “as Lincoln and FDR have both done in times of war.” (President Abraham Lincoln did so during the Civil War; President Franklin D. Roosevelt did so during World War II so that officials could force Japanese Americans into camps.)

Steinburg stood by the post speaking to WRAL on Tuesday, while referencing a number of conspiracy theories about the election.

The state senator claimed that the Supreme Court justices had declined to hear the challenge last week because “somebody’s got something” on the highest judicial officers in the nation. He claimed that unnamed FBI and CIA agents who live in his district had told him so. He also alleged that federal law enforcement officials have refused to intervene in a “coup d’etat.”

He also offered, unbidden, to take a psychological evaluation to prove that he is sound of mind.

“I’m not nuts,” he told the outlet. “I’m not a conspiracy theory person.”

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Steinburg’s demands were echoed by Chase, who is running for the Republican nomination for Virginia governor.

“The American people aren’t fools,” she wrote in a Facebook post on Tuesday. “We know you cheated to win and we’ll never accept these results.”

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Chase advocated for Flynn’s suggestion earlier this month that the president “suspend the Constitution” and “have the military implement a national revote that reflects the true will of the people.”

Many Republicans, including party leadership, refrained for weeks from publicly acknowledging Biden’s victory. Even after the electoral college’s certification, hundreds of GOP lawmakers have kept mum on the results. Just 10 GOP members of Congress have said they oppose Trump’s efforts to overturn the election results, while 129 have said they support the president’s efforts.

According to a Washington Post tally last updated on Tuesday, 37 out of the 249 Republicans in Congress had publicly noted that Biden won. GOP Reps. Paul A. Gosar (Ariz.) and Mo Brooks (Ala.) have said they do not accept the electoral college results, and only 41 Republicans would publicly commit to accepting the electors’ final vote if Biden won.

Where Republicans in Congress stand on Trump’s false claim of winning the election

Steinburg on Tuesday said he would support Trump if he suspended civil rights protections to detain his political enemies and change the election result.

“If that’s what needs to be done, if there are people who have been identified as folks who are suspected of high crimes and misdemeanors, who are threatening the very security and foundation of our nation,” Steinburg told WRAL, “for whatever period of time it takes to round them up, then yes.”