- Senator Mike Lee has given his first interview since messages between him and Mark Meadows surfaced.
- He said he was “in no way encouraging” states to switch voters as he spent “14 hours a day” calling them.
- Lee had told Meadows that “there could be a way” if some states turned up pro-Trump voters.
Republican Senator Mike Lee of Utah says he was just doing his due diligence as a senator after messages between him and Mark Meadows, former chief of staff to former President Donald Trump, appeared to show Lee was working behind the scenes to try to help Trump overturn the 2020 election results.
“Please tell me what I’m supposed to be saying,” Lee texted Meadows on November 22, 2020.
In an interview with the Deseret News, Lee said he was texting his longtime colleague informally and simply wanted to know what the message was from Trump’s White House at that time.
“He knows me well enough to know that doesn’t mean I’m going to do what you say, whatever it is,” Lee told the channel.
The texts, which were reported by CNN on April 15, also showed that Lee had “grave concerns” about Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz’s plans to oppose certification of election results in two states.
But Lee apparently thought Trump could stay in power a different path: if the state legislature came up with alternative, pro-Trump voter lists, or even if most lawmakers in that state were “willing to sign a statement outlining how they would vote.” , as he told Meadows on January 4th.
The texts also showed Lee’s frustration with Trump’s antics, with Lee’s former president’s summons to a Georgia rally angering the Utah senator.
“I’ve spent 14 hours a day for the past week trying to figure this out for him,” Lee wrote to Meadows Jan. 4, referring to his calls to state lawmakers across the country. “Having him shoot me like that in such a public setting without even asking me about it is pretty disheartening.”
“We need something from state legislatures to make this legitimate and have some hope of winning,” he said, too. “Even if they can’t meet, it might be enough if most of them are willing to sign a statement outlining how they would vote.”
Asked about the switch by the Deseret News, Lee argued that these “14 hours a day” were spent simply asking whether or not states would change electoral votes.
“At no point was I engaging in advocacy. I was in no way encouraging them to do that. I just asked a yes or no question,” Lee told the channel.
He went on to argue that he was approaching the issue the same way he approaches other topics as a senator.
“You research, you read, you talk to your peers, you follow the Constitution,” he said. “This one proved to be much more complicated than most because it involved an ever-changing series of facts.”
He also told the channel that he thinks the disclosure of the text messages was intended to hurt his re-election chances. On Thursday, Salt Lake Tribune reporter Brian Schott tried to ask Lee about the texts at a GOP convention in Utah while Lee was meeting with party members, only to be physically rebuffed by the senator’s aides.