Utah Sen. Mike Lee, who stood against former President Donald Trump‘s election fraud claims on Jan. 6th, is revealed in text messages to the White House to have vouched for ‘Kraken’ lawyer Sidney Powell just weeks earlier.
The texts – which the Republican senator sent to former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows as Trump’s effort to overturn the election was underway – provide a much broader view of Lee, a conservative who split with his friend Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who rallied the effort to refuse to accept votes for Joe Biden certified by states where Trump claimed fraud.
They reveal that Lee, whose conservative legal chops include clerking for Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, touted Powell to Meadows just days after the election when she was just starting to forward her ultimately doomed legal theories.
‘Sydney [sic] Powell is saying that she needs to get in to see the president, but she’s being kept away from him,” Lee wrote to Meadows November 7,’ according to texts obtained by CNN.
‘Apparently she has a strategy to keep things alive and put several states back in play. Can you help get her in?’
‘I have grave concerns with the way my friend Ted is going about this effort,’ Utah GOP Sen. Mike Lee texted Mark Meadows on Jan. 3rd. Weeks earlier, he was pushing Trump to meet with ‘Kraken’ lawyer Sidney Powell and providing her contact information
He passed along her cell phone and email contact information.
Days later he vouched for Powell as a ‘straight shooter,’ according to the texts, which were obtained by the House Jan. 6th committee. Meadows provided texts to the committee before later fighting a subpoena.
Lee had also on Nov. 7th offered up his ‘unequivocal support for you to exhaust every legal and constitutional remedy at your disposal to restore Americans faith in our elections.
He told Meadows, in a message directed to Trump: ‘This fight is about the fundamental fairness and integrity of our election system. The nation is depending upon your continued resolve. Stay strong and keep fighting Mr. President.’
That text was in the form of a note signed by several prominent conservatives. They said it was for Trump and was not being issued as a ‘press release’ – but said he could ‘feel free to leak it.’
Nov. 7th is the day the Associated Press and networks called the election for Biden after he won Pennsylvania. It is also the day Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani held his infamous press conference at Four Seasons Total Landscaping.
‘Apparently she has a strategy to keep things alive and put several states back in play. Can you help get her in?’ Lee wrote of lawyer Sidney Powell
An infamous press conference at the RNC featuring Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani appeared to be a turning point. ‘Worried about the Powell press conference,’ Lee wrote Meadows
Rep. Chip Roy recommended lawyer John Eastman to Meadows. Eastman spoke at the ‘Stop the Steal’ rally Jan. 6th
‘This is a sh*tshow’ and ‘Fix this now,’ conservative Rep. Chip Roy (R-Tex.) wrote Meadows on Jan. 6
‘I have grave concerns with the way my friend Ted is going about this effort,’ Lee texted Jan. 3 about Sen. Ted Cruz, the first GOP senator to announce publicly that he would object to votes certified by states
The advice came amid Trump’s election overturn effort
On Nov. 9th, after a group of GOP senators met with Powell, Lee wrote: ‘You have in us a group of ready and loyal advocates who will go to bat for him, but I fear this could prove short-lived unless you hire the right legal team and set them loose immediately.’
Lee’s assessment would change over time, following Powell’s infamous press conference at Republican National Committee headquarters where Powell through out a series of wild claims along with former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who was seen sweating with hair dye running down his face. Powell sketched out a series of interweaving fraud claims involving Dominion voting systems and ‘communist’ money from Venezuela.
‘Worried about the Powell press conference,’ Lee wrote Meadows. The lawyer who worked for top DC firms and whose father served as solicitor general, also weighed in with a legal assessment.
Both Lee and Roy voted to count votes certified by states on Jan. 6
‘The potential defamation liability for the president is significant here. For the campaign and for the president personally,’ he said, anticipating the lawsuits filed by Dominion Voting Systems and other entities wrapped up in Powell’s claims.
‘Unless Powell can back up everything she said, which I kind of doubt she can,’ he observed, prompting Meadows to reply: ‘I agree. Very concerned.’
‘Unless Powell can immediately substantiate what she said today, the president should probably disassociate himself and refute any claims that can’t be substantiated, Lee advised.
But Lee was tossing out aggressive legal strategies into December.
‘If a very small handful of states were to have their legislatures appoint alternative slates of delegates, there could be a path,’ he advised Dec. 8th. ‘I am working on that as of yesterday,’ responded Meadows.
Fellow conservative GOP Rep. Chip Roy can be seen going through a similar revolution in his own texts to Meadows.
‘We need ammo. We need fraud examples. We need it this weekend,’ Roy wrote Meadows on Nov. 7.
Roy, too, vouched for a lawyer – in his case putting in a word for attorney John Eastman, who would later sketch out a desperate legal theory for Vice President Mike Pence to refuse to count certified states in a move that could have thrown the election to the full House.
‘Have you talked to John Eastman?’ Roy wrote Meadows Nov. 22, shortly after the Nov. 19 Giuliani presser.
‘Get Eastman to file in front of [Pennsylvania] board of elections… Get data in front of public domain.’
‘Frigging rudy needs to hush,’ he advised, in reference to Giuliani.
As the days wore on, and a series of courts rejected the fraud claims put forward by Trump allies, Roy soured on the effort.
He wrote Meadows Dec. 31: ‘The president should call everyone off. It’s the only path. If we substitute the will of states through electors with a vote by congress every 4 years… we have destroyed the electoral college… Respectfully.’
Lee’s messages grew increasingly concerned.
‘I only know that this will end badly for the President unless we have the Constitution on our side,” Lee texted, ‘And unless these states submit new slates of Trump electors pursuant to state law, we do not.’
On Dec. 16th, Lee had been pushing the White House to provide more guidance to on which of the myriad legal theories its allies were floating should be pursued.
‘If you want senators to object, we need to hear from you on that ideally getting some guidance on what arguments to raise,’ he wrote. ‘I think we’re now passed the point where we can expect anyone will do it without some direction and a strong evidentiary argument.’
Ultimately, it was Lee’s Senate friend and colleague Ted Cruz who would come out first to say he would make an objection on the Senate floor when the chamber met Jan. 6th to count the electoral votes.
Lee wasn’t buying it. ‘I have grave concerns with the way my friend Ted is going about this effort,’ Lee texted Jan. 3. ‘This will not inure to the benefit of the president,’ he predicted.
Roy grew increasingly disillusioned, texting Meadows: ‘This is a sh*tshow’ and ‘Fix this now.’
Both Lee and Roy voted to accept votes certified by the states. Just over a handful of Republican senators voted not to accept votes from Arizona and Pennsylvania, with more than 100 House Republicans voting not to accept them in each case.