- Senator Mike Lee gave his first interview since texts between him and Mark Meadows came to light.
- He said he “in no way encouraged” states to switch voters while spending “14 hours a day” calling them.
- Lee had told Meadows “there might be a way” if some states submit pro-Trump voters.
Republican Senator Mike Lee of Utah said he was just doing his due diligence as a senator after texts between him and former President Donald Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows appeared to show that Lee was working behind the scenes to try to help Trump overturn the 2020 election results.
“Please tell me what I should say,” Lee texted Meadows on Nov. 22, 2020.
In an interview with Deseret News, Lee said he was texting his longtime colleague informally and just wanted to know what Trump’s White House message was at the time.
“He knows me well enough to know that doesn’t mean I’ll make your offer, whatever it is,” Lee told the outlet.
The texts, which were first reported by CNN on April 15, also showed Lee had “serious concerns” about Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas’ plans to oppose certification of the election results. in two states.
But Lee apparently thought Trump could stay in power through a different route: if the state legislature submitted alternative, pro-Trump voter lists, or even if the majority of state lawmakers were “willing to sign a statement indicating how they would vote,” as he told Meadows on January 4.
The texts also showed Lee’s frustration with Trump’s antics, with the former president’s call out to Lee at a rally in Georgia infuriating the senator from Utah.
“I spent 14 hours a day last week trying to sort this out for him,” Lee wrote to Meadows on Jan. 4, referring to his phone calls to state lawmakers across the country. “To see him shoot me like that in such a public setting without even asking the question is quite discouraging.”
“We need something from the state legislatures to make this legitimate and hope to win,” he also said. “Even if they can’t meet, that might be enough if a majority of them are willing to sign a statement saying how they would vote.”
Asked about the exchange by Deseret News, Lee argued that those “14 hours a day” were simply spent asking whether or not states would alter electoral votes.
“At no time did I engage in advocacy. I in no way encouraged them to do so. I just asked them a yes or no question,” Lee told the outlet.
He went on to say that he approaches the issue the same way he approaches other topics as a senator.
“You research, read, discuss with your colleagues, you follow the Constitution,” he said. “This one turned out to be much trickier than most because it involved an ever-changing plate of facts.”
He also told the outlet that he believed the publication of the text messages was intended to hurt his re-election chances. On Thursday, Salt Lake Tribune reporter Brian Schott attempted to question Lee about the texts at a Republican Party convention in Utah while Lee was meeting with party members, only to be physically rebuffed by aides in the senator.