Anchor Shannon Bream confronted Sen. Mike Lee about texts that reveal his efforts to help Donald Trump overturn the results of the 2020 election. But she let much of Lee’s dishonest “explanation” stand without challenge.
As Bream acknowledged, Lee is facing a tougher-than-expected re-election challenge from former Republican and now independent Evan McMullin (though FiveThirtyEight still gives Lee a 95% chance of winning).
Before introducing Lee, Fox News Sunday primed the pump, so to speak, with a clip that let the MAGA viewers know that McMullin is not one of them:
BREAM: McMullin, a former CIA officer, burst on to the scene in 2016, running for president as an independent hoping to peel away votes from Donald Trump.
MCMULLIN: I believe that Donald Trumps harms the strength and prosperity of this country.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: In Utah, I had this character that nobody ever saw before, Evan McMuffin. Do you believe this?
At a recent debate, McMullin blasted Lee for trying to help overturn the election. Bream began the interview by playing a clip of McMullin speaking after the debate.
MCMULLIN: Lee actively helped plan the effort to recruit fake electors and to overturn our election and American democracy. No one need take my word for it. It's a matter of public record, and he can dispute that as much as he wants, but the truth is the truth.
Bream next read some of the texts between Lee and then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows that CNN published in April.
December 8th : If a very small handful of states were to have their legislatures appoint alternative slates of delegates, there could be a path.
January 4th : I've been spending 14 hours a day for the last week trying to unravel this for him.
That same day: I've been calling state legislators for hours and I'm going to spend hours doing the same today. I'm trying to figure out a path that I can persuasively defend.
“Evan McMullin says the texts speak for themselves. How do you explain them?” Bream asked Lee.
LEE: Look, there's not a scintilla of truth to what he's suggesting there. The fact is, there were rumors circulating in the days and weeks leading up to January 6th, rumors suggesting that some states would be shifting out their slates of electors.
Now, as a U.S. senator, it was my job to open and count the electoral votes on January 6th. And we were trying to narrow down what was truth and what was fiction. I made phone calls to investigate the truthfulness of those rumors.
That's all. Not advocating, just investigating the truthfulness of them. There's the only scenario in which Congress would have had a role.
I concluded after my investigation, that the rumors were false and on that basis, I voted to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election.
To her credit, Bream questioned that obviously false explanation:
BREAM: So, when you're saying, I'm looking for a path forward with the states’ electors or with state legislatures, that path forward would suggest that you were at some point onboard with the idea.
But Lee continued to falsely claim he was merely investigating.
LEE: No. Look, the point here was that there was -- there was only one path and that path I was trying to get the White House and the president's team to acknowledge, that was the only path. If a state concluded that it incorrectly certified results of its election, and on that basis shifted out its slates of electors, that would be only way of doing it.
Now, I didn't believe they were going to do it, and my own investigation played that out. My point there was to say we've got to figure out whether this is the case and I wanted the president's team to acknowledge that that would be the only scenario in which there would be any role for Congress. There wasn't, and on that basis, I voted to certify.
But the texts show that Lee was clearly lying about what he was up to. CNN’s fact check of Lee's similar claims in the debate provides information that Fox News Sunday left out about Lee’s texts. They provide “clear evidence that he did far more to try to reverse Biden’s win than he now claims,” CNN notes, but Bream did not.
In a text on January 3, he again raised the idea of “legislatures submitting Trump slates (based on a conclusion that this was the proper result under state law).” While Lee expressed both political and constitutional objections to other Republicans’ ideas for trying to thwart Biden’s victory, he argued that “everything changes, of course, if the swing states submit competing slates of electors pursuant to state law.”
On January 4, Lee framed his phone calls to state legislators not as mere research queries but as part of his quest to find a defensible way to keep Trump in office. Complaining about how Trump had just criticized him publicly, Lee told Meadows: “I’ve been calling state legislators for hours today, and am going to spend hours doing the same tomorrow. I’m trying to figure out a path that I can persuasively defend, and this won’t make it any easier, especially if others now think I’m doing this because he went after me.”
Lee continued: “We need something from state legislatures to make this legitimate and to have any hope of winning. Even if they can’t convene, it might be enough if a majority of them are willing to sign a statement indicating how they would vote.”
Rather than call out Lee’s dishonest spin, Bream moved on. Now, I understand that she had a lot of material to cover in a relatively short period of time. But we’re talking about a U.S. senator’s efforts to overturn an election here, not whether he fudged his position on say, abortion.
However, to her credit, again, Bream highlighted the fact that Lee opposed Trump’s nomination at the 2016 convention and voted for McMullin. “I'm guessing you're not going to vote for him this time in this Senate race,” she quipped.
Lee now all but apologized as he positioned himself as Candidate MAGA and McMullin as a Biden clone:
LEE: Look, if he runs again, I think there's a very high probability he gets the nomination. I will, of course, support the nominee in 2024. And yeah, you're right about my vote in 2016.
I was wrong, I was really wrong. I didn't believe that President Trump would do the things he promised to do. And I was still sore over the way some of my colleagues had been treated during the 2016 election cycle.
But that vote I cast in 2016 was a huge mistake, just as it would be huge mistake for my fellow Utahans to vote for Evan McMullin today.
Evan McMullin is a Democrat. Look, he's been endorsed by the Democratic Party. He's raised 2.5 million last quarter alone on Act Blue, the Democrats' donor network. He spent $1.6 million feeding it right back into the Democratic industrial complex. He supported Democratic policies.
Evan McMullin supports Joe Biden and his policies. He would be a reliable Democratic vote as he is the Democratic candidate in this race.
FoxNews.com titled the interview, “Biden's policies have made US economy 'worse': Senator Mike Lee.”
You can watch Lee try to whitewash his efforts to subvert democracy, with a little help from Fox News below, from the October 23, 2022 Fox News Sunday.
In reality, Lee believes in a form of White Supremacism and is willing to compromise any principle to forward that agenda. He figures his followers (and Trump’s) will never notice if he dissembles, and that he has free reign to behave with impunity. His actual agenda is clearly about attacking what small gains happened in civil rights between 1954 and 2016, and returning the country to a time when females and non-whites knew their place and didn’t lift their heads.