WASHINGTON — Newly revealed text messages published by CNN show a timely dialogue between Utah Sen. Mike Lee and former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows following President Biden’s election victory in November 2020.
On November 7, the day Biden was officially declared the winner, Lee sent Meadows a message that he wanted former President Donald Trump to see:
Dear Mr. President, We the undersigned offer our unequivocal support for you to exhaust every legal and constitutional remedy at your disposal to restore Americans faith in our elections. This fight is about much more than just this election. 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.
The statement was cosigned by several prominent conservative groups.
In separate messages that day, Lee said they were not issuing it as a press release but added “use it however you deem appropriate.”
In addition, he said, “if it’s helpful to you for you to leak it, feel free to do so.”
To which Meadows replied “??”
Lee then began a lobbying effort to get attorney Sidney Powell in front of Trump. Lee called Powell a “straight shooter.”
Powell gained national prominence following a Nov. 19 press conference with other members of Trump’s legal team, chiefly Rudy Giuliani.
Hours after the news conference, Lee texted Meadows saying he was “worried about the Powell press conference.” Adding that “the potential defamation liability for the president is significant here” and that “the president should probably disassociate.”
Meadows replied that he was also “very concerned.”
In late November, Lee then began a campaign to promote right-wing lawyer John Eastman, who had a plan that involved sending different electors in states that Biden won.
Lee previously told Washington Post veterans Bob Woodward and Robert Costa that he didn’t know of the Eastman plan until January.
In a Dec. 8 text, he shot Meadows an idea: If a very small handful of states were to have their legislatures appoint alternative slates of delegates, there could be a plan.
Eastman recently invoked his Fifth Amendment rights when questioned about communications by the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
On Dec. 16, Lee appeared to ease on the idea of overturning the election results, saying in messages to Meadows: If you want senators to object, we need to hear from you on that ideally getting some guidance on what arguments to raise. I think we’re now passed the point where we can expect anyone will do it without some direction and a strong evidentiary argument.
On Jan 3., Lee said he had “grave concerns” about how aggressive Texas Sen. Ted Cruz was being in the fight over the results.
He told Meadows that Trump has a legit shot at 2024, and warned of the developments harming his future prospects.
At a rally on Jan. 4, Trump told the crowd that he was “a little angry” at Lee after the Utah senator officially came out against the efforts.
Lee later vented to Meadows: I’ve been spending 14 hours a day for the last week trying to unravel this for him. To have him take a shot at me like that in such a public setting without even asking me about it is pretty discouraging.
Two days later: