Sen. Mike Lee, whose text messages raised questions over his involvement in trying to overturn the 2020 election, says he would be willing to talk to the Jan. 6 investigative committee if he were asked.
“Oh, sure. I’d always be willing to talk if they want to talk,” the Utah Republican said on Fox News Sunday.
Lee said the committee has not sought to speak with him in the form of a deposition or in any other way.
In addition to discussing the Jan. 6 hearing, Lee also responded to questions about a bipartisan framework for gun safety unveiled last week, saying he “refuses” to indicate on how he would vote on a bill he hasn’t seen.
Fox News anchor Shannon Bream showed Lee a clip of former President Donald Trump calling the Jan. 6 committee hearings a “complete and total lie. It’s a complete and total fraud” before bringing up the senator’s text messages to then White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.
“I knew how bad Joe Biden would be as president. I knew how bad he would be in the Oval Office,” Lee said. “There was some uncertainty in the wake of the election.”
Near the end of December, he said, there were rumors suggesting some states were withdrawing and reallocating their electoral votes.
Lee said he communicated with Meadows to find out if the rumors were true because the Senate has a role in certifying the votes.
“I couldn’t get answers, so I reached out to state lawmakers in various states, not trying to influence anyone, simply trying to find out if the rumors were true. The rumors weren’t true. No state had any intention of withdrawing its slate of electoral votes and that made it an easy decision on my part to vote to certify the results of the election,” he said.
Lee exchanged dozens of text messages with Meadows exploring ways for the Trump administration to overturn the 2020 presidential election.
In an interview in April, Lee said he was not doing the bidding of the White House. He said his only goal was to figure out Congress’ role in a presidential election and sort through theories the Trump campaign pursued to challenge the outcome.
In a text to Meadows shortly after the 2020 election, Lee offered his “unequivocal support for you to exhaust every legal and constitutional remedy at your disposal to restore Americans’ faith in our elections.”
Earlier this month, Lee said the documentary film “2000 Mules” made by conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza raises “significant” questions about what might have happened in the election. The film tries to make the case that massive fraud occurred in the 2020 election.
The Reuters Fact Check Team concluded “2000 Mules” does not provide any concrete, verifiable evidence of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election. Former Trump administration Attorney General William Barr described the documentary as “singularly unimpressive” in his interview with the Jan. 6 committee.
During the Fox News Sunday interview, Bream also pressed Lee about proposed gun reform laws.
Last week, 10 Republican and 10 Democratic senators, including Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, announced a framework for gun safety legislation that includes resources for states to implement red flag laws, investment in mental health treatment and school security, and an added level of scrutiny for gun buyers under the age of 21. A bill for the proposal has not been drafted.
The proposal came in the wake of deadly mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas and Buffalo, New York.
Lee said the “gang of 20” doesn’t have a deal or a bill at all but rather an agreement on a series of broad promises.
“We’ve got to be careful whenever something like this happens that we not legislate under the heat of the moment, under great emotion without looking at the text (of a bill) and figure out what we’re doing,” he said. “We need to be careful that we not punish law-abiding Americans for the wrongs carried out by the criminally minded and the insane.”
Bream showed Lee new Fox News polling data that found 88% of voters support background checks for gun purchases, 82% favor raising the legal age to buy assault rifles from 18 to 21, 81% back red flag laws, and 63% support an assault weapons ban.
“There is a lot of momentum at least among the public sphere for doing this. Are you out of step with your constituents?” Bream asked Lee.
“What’s important is that we look out for the rights of constituents,” Lee said. “Constituents are asked poll questions.They’re not asked questions about specific language within legislative text. It’s the job of the lawmaker to look out for the interests and the rights of the law-abiding citizens they represent.”
Lee said that “with each of those provisions, I understand how they could get high popularity ratings when they don’t define them.” He said that some of the proposals in the polling are too vague, adding that there is no universal definition of an assault rifle.
Lee said the language of a bill matters because it determines whether the law intrudes on the rights of Americans.