4 takeaways about Sen. Mike Lee’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election, from Robert Gehrke

We wakened Friday morning to a bombshell report from CNN, which had obtained textual content messages despatched by Utah Sen. Mike Lee to then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows discussing efforts to overturn the 2020 election and preserve Donald Trump within the White House.

The textual content messages take us on a curler coaster, the place Lee initially embraces the conspiracy theories of Trump lawyer Sidney Powell earlier than coming to the belief that she may probably expose the president to authorized legal responsibility for her defamatory statements.

They present a senator pledging to be a group participant, pleading for proof to again up the election challenges and attempting to coordinate speaking factors with the White House.

It’s a wild experience, however listed here are 4 key takeaways from the messages.

Lee’s been dishonest in regards to the extent of his involvement within the plot

Publicly, the senator’s rationalization of his involvement within the plot to overturn the election was that he received a memo from lawyer John Eastman per week earlier than the election was to be licensed that advised that states may appoint alternate slates of electors, thus creating a gap for Republican senators to depend the pro-Trump alternates over these pledged to Biden.

Lee has stated that he made some calls to officers in these states and shortly noticed that it was unlikely alternate electors could be appointed and moved on. That was that.

But these textual content messages give us a distinct story. They present that Lee was strategizing with Eastman and selling him to the White House as early as Nov. 23 — lower than three weeks after the election. By Dec. 8, the plan had already taken form, when Lee texted Meadows that, “If a very small handful of states were to have their legislatures appoint alternative slates of delegates, there could be a path.”

He pressed the difficulty once more with Meadows in January after his good friend Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and others introduced that they’d vote towards certifying the election. Trump had damage Lee’s emotions by taking a shot at Lee at a rally, however Lee informed Meadows they wanted a stronger constitutional footing.

And it seems, Lee had been working frantically to create the constitutional disaster Trump and Republican senators wanted to overturn the election.

“I’ve been calling state legislators for hours today, and am going to spend hours doing the same tomorrow. I’m trying to figure out a path that I can persuasively defend,” Lee wrote to Meadows. “We need something from state legislatures to make this legitimate and to have any hope of winning.”

So what have we discovered? Basically, Lee was a really energetic participant on this plot to overturn an American presidential election. He needed to throw the “constitutional” change to invalidate the election, no matter how the voters voted, and preserve Trump in workplace.

Politically, how a lot does this injury Lee? Probably not a lot.

Lee’s opponents, as one would count on, have been fast to sentence the senator’s function within the try to reverse the election consequence.

“Sen. Mike Lee researched overturning a lawful, democratic election for partisan and political gain,” Republican Becky Edwards stated in an announcement.

Republican Ally Isom stated the exams present Lee “is more concerned with playing D.C. games — with the politics of politics — rather than the people of Utah.”

Democrat Kael Weston stated Lee was appearing as Trump’s lawyer within the 2020 election, not within the curiosity of the nation.

“Instead of plotting with White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to further divide our nation [and] undermine our democracy, Lee should have been working on behalf of Utahns who pay his salary,” Weston stated. “Lee’s indefensible actions helped move our country toward the violent insurrection of [Jan. 6].”

And impartial challenger Evan McMullin stated the texts present that Lee was “far more involved in the effort to overturn American democracy than we previously knew, even advocating for key states to appoint fake electors as early as Dec. 8. He lied about what he knew and when he knew it.”

Unfortunately, I think the overwhelming majority of Lee’s supporters received’t care, unconcerned if the senator’s actions have been unlawful, undemocratic or unconstitutional. They’ll see Lee as a group participant attempting to maintain their man in workplace.

It falls into the identical class as Trump’s endorsement of Lee’s re-election, which the marketing campaign appears to need no a part of and nonetheless hasn’t acknowledged publicly. Trump supporters have been already backing Lee and his opponents have been already wanting elsewhere.

Maybe this drives just a few individuals who have been really on the fence away from the senator, however I think the overwhelming majority of his supporters have already discovered some twisted rationalization to justify virtually something the senator would possibly do.

We can’t say if Lee was a part of a felony conspiracy or not

Last month, a federal decide ruling on Eastman’s refusal to show over a collection of paperwork to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol stated that Trump and Eastman “more likely than not” corruptly conspired to disrupt an official continuing and “defraud the United States by interfering with the election certification process.”

This was not a felony trial, clearly, so there are completely different requirements and no one has gone to jail — no less than not but. But the decide didn’t mince phrases: “The illegality of the plan was obvious.”

“It was a coup in search of a legal theory,” the decide wrote. “If Dr. Eastman and President Trump’s plan had worked, it would have permanently ended the peaceful transition of power, undermining American democracy and the Constitution.”

Based on these texts, it seems Utah’s senior senator may be included among the many checklist of co-conspirators. Not an excellent look.

Lee ought to cooperate with the Jan. 6 investigators

These textual content messages give us a fuller view of Lee’s involvement and coordination in making an attempt to overthrow the democratic election. But it’s nonetheless not full.

When the House committee requested Eastman about his communication with Lee, Eastman invoked his Fifth Amendment proper towards self-incrimination. Lee’s public model of occasions, we now know, was crammed (and that is placing it generously) with half-truths.

As McMullin stated, the senator “put our Constitution and our freedoms at risk and he must be held accountable. He has a responsibility to tell Utahns the truth about his role in this dark episode in American history.”

At a minimal, Lee owes it to his constituents to supply a full, trustworthy account of his involvement, and one of the best ways he can do that’s to supply paperwork and testimony to the committee investigating the rebel.

It may go a great distance towards bringing about accountability and closure. It may show therapeutic to our nation and helpful to our democracy. Given his sample of conduct, nonetheless, none of these issues appear to be priorities for Sen. Mike Lee.

Editor’s observe • This story is obtainable to Salt Lake Tribune subscribers solely. Thank you for supporting native journalism.

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