SALT LAKE CITY, AP — Utah Sen. Mike Lee worked on early efforts to overturn the 2020 election results, helping advance legally dodgy plans to keep President Donald Trump in power, before to change course and reverse quickly.
His efforts, revealed in text messages obtained by the House panel investigating the deadly insurrection on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, were swiftly condemned by his re-election challengers on Friday.
Text messages between the Republican senator and then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows detail how Lee encouraged top Trump advisers to kiss Sidney Powell, a Republican lawyer who later spread wild allegations and baseless of a rigged election.
Lee’s messages to Meadows — and Republican Texas Rep. Chip Roy’s messages to Meadows — were reported and published Friday by CNN.
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They show that Lee’s efforts to help Trump began on November 7 and included early support for Powell. Later, Lee explored a plan to encourage state legislatures to alter the outcome of the 2020 election by appointing alternate voters.
At one point, Lee said he was working “14 hour days” to help Trump. At another, he asked Meadows, “Please tell me what I should say.”
By mid-November, however, messages show Lee beginning to lose faith in Powell and, eventually, the alternate voters’ plan. He also questioned efforts to oppose vote certification after no evidence of widespread fraud emerged.
“I only know this will end badly for the president unless we have the Constitution on our side,” Lee wrote to Meadows.
He and Roy did not join congressional Republicans who opposed the results when they were certified in January.
Still, Lee’s main Republican opponent, Becky Edwards, a former state legislator, said the posts show Lee “did research to nullify a legal, Democratic election for partisan and political purposes…he allowed the situation to endure and enabled those who sought to hold on to power regardless of the consequences.
Ally Isom, a former deputy chief of staff to the governor who also challenges Lee, said the posts show he’s “more concerned about DC games” than representing Utahans. “I’m a classic conservative,” she said in a statement.
Independent Evan McMullin, a former presidential candidate, also criticized Lee on Twitter.
Lee’s spokesperson, for his part, said the senator followed the Constitution and that the messages “tell the same story that Senator Lee told from the Senate floor the day he voted to certify the results. elections”.
Lee’s posts are the latest example of high-profile Republicans pushing Meadows to challenge the election results.
Last month, The Washington Post and CBS reported that Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, also texted Meadows repeatedly imploring her to take action to void the 2020 election. in the efforts raised concerns about her husband’s potential involvement in any matter involving the election or the Jan. 6 insurrection.
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