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Alabama AG Steve Marshall won’t say whether Biden is “duly elected” president

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshal was questioned Thursday about the role the organization he leads played in Jan. 6.

Attorney General Steve Marshall participated in the Alabama State Fraternal Order of Police 2021 Memorial Service Friday May 7, 2021 in Montgomery, Ala. (Governor's Office/Hal Yeager)

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall during a confirmation hearing Thursday for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown-Jackson wouldn’t say whether President Joe Biden is the duly-elected president. 

Marshall was asked that question several times by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D- Rhode Island, but Marshall declined to say whether Biden was duly elected. Marshall was also asked about the role his organization, the Rule of Law Defense Fund – a fundraising arm of the Republican Attorney Generals Association – played in the Jan. 6, 2021, rally that turned into an attack on the U.S. Capitol. 

“Is Joseph R. Biden of Delaware the duly-elected and lawfully-serving president of the United States of America,” Whitehouse asked Marshall. 

“He is the president of this country,” Marshal said. 

“Is he the duly-elected and lawfully serving president of the United States,” Whitehouse asked again. 

“He is the president of our country,” Marshall responded. 

“Are you answering that – omitting the language duly elected and lawfully serving purposefully,” Whitehouse asked. 

“I’m answering the question. He is the president of the United States,” Marshall said. 

Marshall leads the Rule of Law Defense Fund, which was listed as a participating organization for the March to Save America on the march’s website, as were the groups Stop the Steal, Tea Party Patriots and Turning Point Action.

Prior to the Jan. 6, 2021, protest that turned into an attack on the U.S. Capitol, RLDF sent out robocalls detailing when and where citizens should meet, which was first reported by Documented

Marshall told APR days after the attack that he was unaware the nonprofit he leads made “decisions” with regard to the rally, and that he planned to conduct an “internal review” of the matter. 

Several longtime staff member at the Republican Attorneys General Association resigned in the wake of the robocalls and deadly attack.

Some of the departures follow the association’s appointment as director Pete Bisbee, a man whom one outgoing staffer said was responsible for approving robocalls urging attendance at the Jan. 6 rally. 

“Mr. Marshall. You were the chairman of the Republican attorney general’s Association and the rule of law Defense Fund in the run up to the January 6 assault on the Capitol, and rule of law and Defense Fund sent robo calls urging recipients to march to the capitol on January 6. Where you personally present in Washington DC on January 6,” Whitehouse asked Marshall on Thursday, to which Marshall responded that he was not.  

“Did RAGA or RLDF have staff present,” Whitehouse asked, referring to Marshall’s two groups and the Jan. 6 attack. Marshall declined to answer the question, however. 

“I can’t speak to that, but senator what I can tell you is that we’ve denounced lawlessness, not only as it elated to what took place on January 6 but also the lawlessness that continues to go on across our country with violent crime,” Marshall said. 

Marshall declined to tell APR in July 2021 where he was on the days leading up to and following the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. 

Then-Republican Attorneys General Association director Adam Piper attended a Jan. 5 meeting at the Trump International Hotel in Washington D.C., along with Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Alabama; Donald Trump Jr.; Eric Trump; Trump’s former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn; adviser Peter Navarro; Trump’s 2016 campaign manager Corey Lewandowski; and 2016 deputy campaign manager David Bossie, according to Charles W. Herbster, who was then the national chairman of the Agriculture and Rural Advisory Committee in Trump’s administration.

“They discussed how to pressure more members of Congress to object to the Electoral College results that made Joe Biden the winner,” Herbster told The Omaha World-Herald about that Jan. 5 meeting.

It’s unclear whether Marshall had any meetings with Trump, or Trump aides, in the days leading up to the failed insurrection, although APR made a records request seeking his scheduling records, which are a matter of public record.  

“Consistent with long-standing policy, this Office has determined that disclosure of these records may pose a security risk and are therefore privileged. I regret that I am unable to honor your request at this time,” wrote Marshall in a letter to APR

Whitehouse during Thursday’s hearing asked if Marshall was aware of how those robocalls were funded, and Marshall responded by saying “no knowledge.” 

“Did you personally solicit funding for that robocall,” Whitehouse asked. 

“I’ve made multiple comments here already. The question before this body is the nomination,” Marshall said, dodging the question. 

“I get to ask questions.Pretty simple question. yes or no? Did you personally solicit money to support the robocall that brought people to the Capitol, who then assaulted the capital,” Whitehouse asked. 

“No,” Marshall said. 

The Washington Post last year reported that Julie Jenkins Fancelli, the daughter of the founder of the Publix grocery store, donated $150,000 to the Rule of Law Defense Fund RLDF on December 29, 2020. 

​​“Did you have any contact with members of Congress in any effort to keep the electoral process open through objections to give those coming to assault the Capitol time to breach the Capitol and disrupt the elections process,” Whitehouse asked, to which Marshall said “no.” 

Marshall in December 2020 signed on to a brief in support of a lawsuit filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton that asks the U.S. Supreme Court to toss election results in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The U.S. Supreme Court rejected that Texas lawsuit.

Eddie Burkhalter is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at eburkhalter@alreporter.com or reach him via Twitter.

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