Evan McMullin, the independent candidate for Senate in Utah, confronted incumbent Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) on Monday over his role within the plot to overturn the 2020 presidential election within the rivals’ Senate debate.
Text messages from Lee to former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows revealed how Lee helped push legally dubious schemes to maintain then-President Donald Trump in power before shifting course and voting to certify the 2020 election on January 6, 2021. Lee also encouraged top Trump advisers to embrace Sidney Powell, a Republican lawyer who spread baseless claims of a rigged election.
“That was essentially the most egregious betrayal of our structure in our nation’s history and it can be your legacy,” McMullin said in Monday’s debate.
“When the barbarians were on the gate, you were pleased to allow them to in,” McMullin added, referring to texts Lee sent to Meadows, urging him to take heed to people like Powell and John Eastman, a right-wing attorney who authored “coup memos” on overturning the election.
McMullin: You said the president should take heed to legal quack Sidney Powell, please find time for her, let her in you told the white house chief of staff… You were there to get up for our structure but when the barbarians were on the gate, you were pleased to allow them to in pic.twitter.com/P1xAhiZj73
— Acyn (@Acyn) October 18, 2022
Lee defended himself by saying he was simply looking into “rumors” of alternate slates of electors within the weeks before Congress voted to certify the 2020 presidential election, noting he ultimately voted to affirm Democrat Joe Biden as president.
“There is totally nothing to the concept I’d have supported a fake elector plot … It’s not true. You owe me an apology,” Lee told McMullin.
The conservative senator then held up his pocket structure. “How dare you, sir,” he added.
McMullin shot back: “Senator Lee has been doing this thing together with his pocket structure for the last several years … The structure will not be a prop so that you can wave about after which when it’s convenient for you in your pursuit of power to desert with no thought.”
In a Dec. 8, 2020 text message to Meadows, Lee suggested “there may very well be a path” toward overturning the outcomes of the 2020 election “if a really small handful of states were to have their legislatures appoint alternative slates of delegates.”
Nonetheless, by Jan. 3, 2021, just days before the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol by a whole lot of Trump supporters, Lee appeared to experience a change of heart. In text messages to Meadows, he warned the hassle could “backfire badly” and urged him to persuade Trump to alter course.
“We simply don’t have any authority to reject a state’s certified electoral votes within the absence of a dueling slates, with the Trump slate coming from a state legislative determination,” Lee said on Jan. 4.
Lee is facing a tighter-than-expected challenge from McMullin, a former CIA officer and House GOP staffer. The race isn’t considered competitive, but a recent poll found McMullin inside a striking distance of 4 points.