Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), who enthusiastically participated in MAGAland’s 2020 election steal efforts, is absolutely not just an obedient footsoldier for ex-President Donald Trump, thank you very much.
That was the tone Lee struck as he attempted to distance himself from Trump during his first and only debate with independent challenger Evan McMullin on Monday night. While he has the incumbent advantage, Lee is locked in a dead heat with McCullin, who has proven himself to be a worthy challenger, collecting the support of moderate Republicans and Democrats after the Utah Democratic Party decided to not put anyone on the ballot this year.
“To suggest that I’m beholden to either party, that I’ve been a bootlicker for either party is folly,” Lee said during Monday’s debate. “And it’s contradicted by the plain facts.”
Yet there’s at least one plain fact that very much supports the notion that Lee has licked many a boot, specifically Trump’s: He actively worked to assist then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows in the legal battles aiming to overturn Trump’s defeat to Joe Biden in the 2020 election.
Meadows’ text logs, which the ex-Trump official turned over to the House Jan. 6 Committee, revealed that Lee had offered his “unequivocal support for you to exhaust every legal and constitutional remedy at your disposal to restore Americans [sic] faith in our elections.”
But the texts showed more than just moral support from Lee: The senator had also tried to connect Trump to MAGA lawyer/conspiracy theorist Sidney Powell and John Eastman, the architect of the infamous fake Trump elector scheme.
And Lee had straight-up solicited plausible arguments from Meadows that the Utah Republican and his fellow GOP senators could use to justify objecting to certifying the election results.
“If you want senators to object, we need to hear from you on that ideally getting some guidance on what arguments to raise,” the Utah Republican, who ultimately did vote to certify Biden’s victory, wrote in December 2020.
Lee also worked to help Trump fend off a conviction in the Senate after the House impeached the then-president for inciting the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.