Lee claims he urged former President Donald Trump to accept the Electoral College result, but the leaked text messages paint a different picture.
Senator Mike Lee spoke briefly on Saturday about text messages suggesting he was a part of a plot to help former President Donald Trump reverse his 2020 election defeat. It was the first time Lee had spoken publicly to a group of reporters messages, which were first published by CNN.
After securing a landslide victory at the Utah Republican Convention on Saturday, Lee briefly met with local media. Each outlet was allowed one question, with no follow-up questions allowed.
Lee initially refused to answer questions about the text messages. When the senator broke his silence in front of Deseret News, owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Lee claimed he was not doing the White House biddingdespite messages to former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows asking for instructions on what he should say publicly.
On Saturday, Lee said he urged the White House to exhaust all legal means at its disposal.
“I knew what a disaster Joe Biden would be,” Lee told reporters on Saturday when asked about the texts. He added that he encouraged the Trump campaign to pursue any available recounts or audits – which is reflected in the text messages.
“I encouraged the Trump campaign, and the president himself, to recognize that he would accept regardless of the Electoral College outcome,” Lee said.
Nowhere in the published text messages does Lee urge Trump or his campaign to accept the outcome of the Electoral College vote. He warns Meadows that a plan to have states send in alternate voter lists could backfire on Trump “unless we have the Constitution on our side.”
On Saturday, Lee again claimed that rumors about alternative voter lists had resurfaced, prompting him to investigate whether that was the case.
“It turns out that no state legislature was about to make that decision. I never defended it. I just asked questions to see if they did,” Lee said. .
Text messages seem to suggest otherwise.
On Jan. 3, Lee warned Meadows that the attempt to reject electoral college votes was doomed unless states send in alternative lists of voters.
“Unless these states submit new lists of Trump voters in accordance with state law, we do not,” Lee wrote.
The next day, Lee told Meadows he was spending “14 hours a day” calling on state lawmakers, “trying to find a path that I could argue convincingly.”
“We need something from the state legislatures to make this legit and hope to win,” Lee wrote.
When asked on Saturday what he meant by that comment, Lee suggested it was just pointless chatter between friends.
“Mark Meadows is a friend of mine. He and I talk all the time,” Lee said, adding that he and the former White House chief of staff had phone and text conversations.
“My point was that unless we have that, unless President Trump has a voters list, unless there is no ambiguity as to what the voters list was. voters of a state, there is no other role for Congress than to open up and count. There were none, and that’s why I voted to certify the election,” Lee said.
The latest messages released between Lee and Meadows give the impression that Lee was working in tandem with Meadows on the alternate voters plan rather than investigating the rumors.
“Even if they (state legislatures) can’t meet, it might be enough if a majority of them are willing to sign a statement outlining how they would vote. And I’ve been working on that all day today. “, wrote Lee.
“I told him (Trump) that you and I worked hard on his behalf,” Meadows replied.
Testimonial from Cassidy Hutchinson, Meadows Assistant contained in a 248-page court file of the U.S. House of Representatives committee investigating Jan. 6 raises further questions about Lee’s interactions with Meadows after the 2020 election, according to New York Times papers. Hutchinson says the White House legal counsel’s office has repeatedly warned that the plan to use surrogate voters was not legally valid. She said those warnings came in early to mid-December or late November.
At first, Lee claimed that he had not heard of John Eastman’s plan involving the alternative voter lists until January 2, 2021. But, Lee referred to Eastman’s “approach” to challenging the election more than a month earlier and specifically mentioned alternative voter lists on December 8. This falls within the timeline suggested by Hutchinson’s testimony about when the White House learned of the proposed plan.
Senator Lee’s office did not respond to questions about whether Lee was aware of the White House attorney’s opinion.