Utah Sen. Mike Lee explains his text messages to Mark Meadows about Trump

Sen. Mike Lee suggests the textual content messages he despatched to then-White House main of team Mark Meadows after the 2020 election don’t signal advocacy for overturning the success in favor of Donald Trump.

In his initially interview considering the fact that CNN last 7 days unveiled dozens of his texts to Meadows, the Utah Republican told the Deseret News on Wednesday his only target was to determine out Congress’ position in a presidential election and sort as a result of theories the Trump campaign pursued to challenge the outcome.

Lee stated he has acknowledged Meadows for a extended time and characterized his texts from Nov. 7, 2020, to Jan. 4, 2021, as obtaining a amount of informality that would be reserved for a pal.

“He knows that when I claimed items like ‘Tell me what we ought to be saying,’ what I was just hoping to determine out was ‘What is your information?’ He understands me nicely plenty of to know that that does not indicate I will do your bidding, whichever it is,” Lee stated in a 45-minute cellphone job interview.

“Conversations I experienced with him at the time on the cellular phone and in man or woman, he understood that. He knew I was not there to do his bidding,” Lee claimed of his discussions with Meadows.

Lee explained his texts to Meadows are currently being made use of out of context for “political motives” and have been “leaked” all through an important period of time of time in his reelection marketing campaign. The messages had been received by the House pick committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and reviewed by CNN.

The Utah Republican Party nominating conference is Saturday and Lee has been assembly with delegates this 7 days. Two Republican opponents, Becky Edwards and Ally Isom, have now skilled for a primary election in June, as has Lee.

Edwards, Isom and impartial candidate Evan McMullin have blasted Lee above the textual content messages and demanded the senator give a complete accounting of his purpose in Trump’s endeavor to overturn the 2020 election.

Lee consented to the job interview Wednesday following times of experiences in the Deseret News and in other places, together with a Tuesday piece by Sam Benson for the Deseret Information detailing conversations from a calendar year ago with the senator. 

Was the 2020 election reasonable?

Lee called for an investigation into election fraud promises but in the long run regarded Joe Biden as president-elect and voted to certify the electoral success on Jan. 6.

Requested Wednesday if Biden was elected in a absolutely free and reasonable election, Lee claimed: “President Biden is the president of the United States. … We know that he is the president of the United States simply because the Electoral Higher education fulfilled on Dec. 14 and then cast electoral votes. These electoral votes signaled the victory for President Biden.”

Lee went on to say there will usually be tries to manipulate the effects of any election and that there is a possibility of fraud. He explained he simply cannot say what did or didn’t come about in any supplied point out. He said it’s not Congress’ task to figure out if the election in any or just about every condition was reasonable and cost-free of fraud.

Asked if there was fraud in the 2020 election, Lee said, “I’ve answered your issue.”

‘A million theories circulating’

The textual content exchanges present how Lee at first supported legal troubles to the election but in the end came to bitter on the effort and the practices deployed by Trump and his lawyers. He eventually concluded that Congress’ only part in presidential elections is to open and depend states’ electoral votes.

Lee mentioned he regularly explained to the Trump marketing campaign and Trump himself to publicly acknowledge that they would settle for the final results of the Electoral College vote on Dec. 14, 2020.

“From the outset of this, I used an massive volume of time carrying out my occupation with only 1 aim in head. Significantly after the electoral votes had been forged, my aim was to determine out what, if any position, Congress had,” Lee said.

Lee acknowledged, as he has formerly, that he inspired the Trump marketing campaign to take a look at authorized alternatives to challenge the election outcomes, which include recounts and audits, and that the time to raise these claims was restricted.

In a text to Meadows on Nov. 7, Lee offered his “unequivocal guidance for you to exhaust each individual legal and constitutional remedy at your disposal to restore Americans’ faith in our elections.”

“This battle is about the fundamental fairness and integrity of our election process. The nation is depending on your ongoing take care of. Remain solid and retain fighting Mr. President.”

For the duration of that time, Lee said he did his possess lawful research and talked to lawyers “aspiring or claiming” to represent Trump.

“There had been a million theories circulating at any provided second,” he said.

It was all through that period that Lee requested Meadows to get legal professional Sydney Powell in to see Trump due to the fact “apparently she has a strategy to retain factors alive and put numerous states again in participate in.”

Lee reported he didn’t know Powell and doesn’t try to remember how he bought in touch with her, but that he did not introduce her to the Trump team. He mentioned he experienced some original discussions with her, but soon after observing her in push conferences turned a lot less enamored with her tactic simply because “the issues she claimed didn’t make a lot of perception to me.”

The senator then turned his notice to John Eastman, a conservative law professor who introduced a idea on how to switch the election for Trump. Lee said while he knew Eastman, he did not introduce him to the Trump team, either.

Eastman claimed that then-Vice President Mike Pence could hand the election to Trump if states submitted dueling slates of electors to Congress, break up among Biden and Trump. Pence could simply just established these states aside on Jan. 6 and depend only electors from the remaining states.

Lee mentioned the theory was commonly frequent knowledge, reviewed amid members of Congress and reported in the media as just one of the choices, or at the very least broadly speculated as a way to go about preserving Trump in office.

“I really do not know when I very first estimate-unquote learned about it,” he claimed.

But Lee reported, “That is really strong medication, and since it is sturdy drugs it appeared extremely unlikely to me all alongside.”

Lee stated he imagined that theory was lifeless until he obtained a memo from Eastman on Jan. 2 professing 7 states were being sending Congress dueling slates of electors. The memo, he said, did not offer any authentic assessment about the foundation on which a point out would adjust its slate of electors or why that would be reputable.

“That’s when I became alarmed. Honestly, by Jan. 2, I begun to consider this had blown over and maybe they ended up not heading to try out this stunt that I consider could be perilous,” he claimed.

Even now, Lee texted Meadows 4 instances about the concept in Eastman’s letter following acquiring it. “Everything modifications, of study course, if the swing states submit competing slates of electors pursuant to state legislation. But in the absence of that, this effort and hard work is destined not only to are unsuccessful, but to harm DJT in the course of action,” read through just one text.

What was Mike Lee executing for individuals 14 hrs a day?

Lee claimed he could not get answers from the Trump marketing campaign about “ever-transforming rumors,” so he started off cold contacting point out legislators and elections officials in states these kinds of as Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Georgia and Michigan to figure out what was likely on.

“I’ve been expending 14 hours a day for the previous week making an attempt to unravel this for him,” Lee texted Meadows on Jan. 4. Lee explained people extensive times of investigation came only following acquiring the Jan. 2 memo.

Lee claimed he found that none of the states have been shifting their electoral votes. And he mentioned he by no means urged states to do that then or at any time ahead of.

“At no stage in any of all those was I partaking in advocacy. I was not in any way encouraging them to do that. I just requested them a certainly or no issue,” he stated.

Lee reported he recommended the Trump administration all along that it was working with “very delicate things” and if it was likely to challenge the electoral vote, it must be in the constraints of the law in each and every state and the Constitution.

“You can’t do this. You can’t take care of the Congress as having the authority to undo the certified electoral votes of any condition,” he said he told Trump advisers.

Lee mentioned he treated the full predicament like he does all his duties as a senator.

“You exploration, examine, speak it via with your colleagues, you abide by the Structure. This one particular proved to be a good deal far more trickier than most since it involved an at any time-transforming plate of facts. That manufactured it a lot more challenging than it ought to have been,” he explained.

Lee mentioned he does not anticipate the release of the text messages to harm his chance for reelection. “I think it was supposed to, but I believe it will not,” he mentioned.

He known as McMullin’s characterization of his involvement “irresponsible” and “wildly inaccurate.” He mentioned Edwards and Isom have been “reckless” with the fact. He stated he doesn’t assume most voters will think their “outlandishly false” statements.

“I’m trusting that Utahns can see by way of his nonsense,” he claimed. “I know what transpired. I know what my ideas and intents had been in performing this.”