Newly revealed text messages from two Republicans who voted to certify President Biden’s election victory show they privately offered advice to Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows in navigating a challenge to the 2020 presidential election.
Texts from Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) obtained by CNN show the two men sought to aid Meadows on how former President Trump should proceed, including in his legal strategy.
The texts show in the early days following the election, both men lended their support to Trump.
Lee texted Meadows on Nov. 7, 2020, to offer his “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 the fundamental fairness and integrity of our election system. The nation is depending upon your continued resolve. Stay strong and keep fighting Mr. President,” he added later.
That same day Roy also sent messages to Meadows.
“We need ammo. We need fraud examples. We need it this weekend,” he said.
On Jan. 6, 2021, both men voted to certify the election results hours after violent rioters pushed their way into the Capitol.
Roy said his vote “may well sign my political death warrant” but added that “the president should never have spun up certain Americans to believe something that simply cannot be.”
Lee offered a similar refrain on the Senate floor: “Our job is a very simple one,” he said. “Our job is to convene to open the ballots and to count them. That’s it.”
But both men also waded into Trump’s legal battles.
Lee lobbied on behalf of Trump lawyer Sydney Powell, sending a text to Meadows, also on Nov. 7, 2020, in an effort to get her into the Oval Office.
“Sydney Powell is saying that she needs to get in to see the president, but she’s being kept away from him,” Lee wrote, sending along her email and phone number.
“Apparently she has a strategy to keep things alive and put several states back in play. Can you help get her in?”
Roy also weighed in that day on the approach Trump should take.
“We must urge the President to tone down the rhetoric, and approach the legal challenge firmly, intelligently and effectively without resorting to throwing wild desperate haymakers or whipping his base into a conspiracy frenzy,” he said.
A representative for Roy told The Hill the texts “speak for themselves.”
Lee Lonsberry, communications director for Lee, said the text messages are consistent with his comments from the Senate chamber.
“The text messages tell the same story Sen. Lee told from the floor of the Senate the day he voted to certify the election results of each and every state in the nation. They tell the story of a US Senator fulfilling his duty to Utah and the American people by following the Constitution,” Lonsberry said.
The texts also showed the men growing more concerned about Trump’s legal efforts as the campaign wore on, including a Nov. 19, 2020, press conference with Powell alongside fellow campaign attorney, Rudy Giuliani, where they laid out a number of conspiracy theories related to election fraud.
Powell, like Meadows, has been subpoenaed by the House committee investigating the attack on the Capitol. She is also facing professional repercussions for making baseless claims of election fraud in court.
After the media event, Lee said he was “worried about the Powell press conference.”
“The potential defamation liability for the president is significant here. For the campaign and for the president personally. Unless Powell can back up everything she said, which I kind of doubt she can,” he texted.
Meadows responded that he was also “very concerned.”
The press conference also alarmed Roy.
“Hey brother — we need substance or people are going to break,” the lawmaker wrote.
Later that month, both lawmakers were beginning to rally around John Eastman, who drafted two memos for the Trump campaign outlining how to unwind the election by having former Vice President Mike Pence reject the Electoral College certification.
In a civil suit spurred by Eastman seeking to block the Jan. 6 panel from accessing his records, a judge found he and Trump likely committed a crime in their efforts to block the certification, calling it “a coup in search of a legal theory.”
Privately, Roy was also texting Meadows with support for Eastman and criticizing Giuliani.
“Have you talked to John Eastman?” Roy wrote to Meadows on Nov. 22, 2020.
“Get Eastman to file in front of pa board of elections…Get data in front of public domain.”
“Frigging rudy needs to hush,” he added, taking a dig at Giuliani.
But by December, each started to express more serious reservations with the campaign.
“If you want senators to object, we need to hear from you on that ideally getting some guidance on what arguments to raise,” Lee wrote on Dec. 16.
“I think we’re now passed the point where we can expect anyone will do it without some direction and a strong evidentiary argument.”
And on New Year’s Eve, Roy suggested abandoning the effort entirely.
“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,” the Texas congressman wrote.
On Jan. 3, Lee similarly expressed concern over an illegal plan to send an alternate slate of state electors to Congress.
“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,” he said.
As the violence unfolded on Jan. 6, Roy again reached out to Meadows.
“This is a sh*tshow,” he said.
“Fix this now.”
Updated: 11:27 a.m.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism