Mike Lee (R-Utah) has served in the U.S. Senate since 2011 and is running for reelection in 2022 with Trump’s endorsement. Facing a fierce challenge from independent candidate Evan McMullin, Lee reached out to Utah’s other sitting senator, Mitt Romney (R-Utah), via Fox News just a month before Election Day to beg for his endorsement—even though Lee refused to endorse Romney in his 2018 Senate campaign and has a history of backstabbing within the state’s GOP.
Lee is a lawyer—like his father Rex Lee, who served as U.S. Solicitor General during the Reagan administration—and was previously an assistant U.S. attorney and a staff member in the administration of Utah Gov. John Huntsman (R). He also clerked for Justice Samuel Alito shortly before he was appointed to the Supreme Court.
In 2016, Lee originally opposed Trump, endorsing his friend Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in the presidential election instead. Even after Trump became the presumptive nominee, the senator was hesitant to endorse him, saying he was concerned that Trump would be an “authoritarian” or “autocrat.”
However, by the 2020 election cycle, Lee became a Trump convert and loyalist, comparing him to heroic figures in Mormonism. In October 2020, he said at a Trump rally, “To my Mormon friends, my Latter-day Saint friends, think of him as Captain Moroni.” After Trump lost, Lee helped spread the Big Lie by casting doubt on the legitimacy of the process and making claims of fraud unfounded by facts. He objected to certifying President Biden’s Electoral College win and voted against both impeaching Trump for inciting the mob and establishing a special House committee to investigate the insurrection, among other measures.
January 6, 2021
- Lee voted against the impeachment of Trump for his role in inciting an insurrection on Jan. 6. Upon Trump’s impeachment by the Senate, Lee released a statement which read “Given the politically suspicious process, the Senate should never have exercised jurisdiction over this Article in the first place. Convicting a former official would be an unprecedented and constitutionally dubious step.”
- He also voted against the creation of an independent committee to investigate the insurrection. Lee released a statement which called a committee “a recipe for a political witch-hunt.”
- Capitol Police officers accused Lee of lying about his intentions for opposing a Congressional investigation into the Jan. 6 insurrection after his text messages to former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows were revealed. The officers asserted that Lee resisted an investigation due to his extensive involvement in the Big Lie and close coordination with the Trump Administration.
The Big Lie
- In the weeks following the election, Lee pleaded with Trump’s Chief of Staff Mark Meadows for direction on what to say regarding the baseless claims of election fraud. According to texts turned over to the House Select Committee investigating the insurrection, the senator texted Meadows on Nov. 22, 2020, “Please give me something to work with. I just need to know what I should be saying.” Two days later, he texted again: “Please tell me what I should be saying.”
- Lee continued to spread allegations of election fraud even after he allegedly reviewed Trump’s “evidence” of fraud and concluded that it was “unconvincing,” according to Bob Woodward’s book Peril.
- Also included in text messages sent to the House Select Committee were indications that Lee was completely supportive of undermining the 2020 election results. He texted Meadows that he pledged his “unequivocal support for you to exhaust every legal and constitutional remedy at your disposal to restore Americans’ faith in our elections.” Lee added, “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.”
- Lee consulted with Meadows about sending slates of fake electors to the Electoral College who would proclaim that Trump won the election in their states.His texts to Meadows indicate that he was looking for ways to get “these states [to] submit new slates of Trump electors pursuant to state law.” Lee also said he was calling state legislators “14 hours a day” to persuade them to take action to undermine Biden’s win.
- In June 2022, after his text messages were made public, Lee tried to defend his actions, saying that he would speak directly with the House Select Committee. Lee also offered the justification that “there was some uncertainty in the wake of the election. As we approached the end of December, there were rumors that continued to circulate suggesting that some states were going to be reallocating—withdrawing and reallocating their electoral votes.”