Former President Donald Trump and others in the White House knew members of the crowd that came to Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6 were armed and could turn violent, but Trump wanted security lifted because they were not there to attack him.
A month after the attack on the Capitol, Sen. Mike Lee defended Trump’s speech that day as nothing different from what Democrats have done.
Cassidy Hutchinson, the former aide to ex-White House chief of Staff Mark Meadows, delivered shocking testimony on Tuesday about Trump’s actions on Jan. 6.
Hutchinson testified that on the morning of Jan. 6, Meadows informed Trump that members of the crowd who gathered to hear his speech on the White House Ellipse were armed with guns, knives, bear spray and other weapons. She said Trump asked for security measures to be lifted because he said his supporters were not there to attack him.
“I don’t f-ing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the f-ing mags (magnetometers) away. Let my people in. They can march to the Capitol from here. Let the people in. Take the f-ing mags away,” Trump said, according to Hutchinson.
During that speech, Trump continued to push the falsehood that the 2020 election was stolen from him and urged the crowd to march to the Capitol, where Congress was in session to count the Electoral College votes. Hutchinson also testified that Trump was so determined to go to the Capitol with the crowd that he physically attacked a member of his security detail inside the presidential vehicle.
Hutchinson said chief White House counsel Pat Cipollone was dead set against Trump’s plan to go to the Capitol, suggesting he was worried that Trump’s speech could be construed as incitement.
“We’re going to get charged with every crime imaginable if we make that movement happen,” Cipollone said, according to Hutchinson.
In February 2021, Sen. Mike Lee defended Trump’s Jan. 6 speech during an interview with Fox News on the first day of Trump’s second impeachment trial.
Lee was shown a montage of Democratic members of Congress urging supporters to confront Republican members of Congress, which Lee said was “not different” than Trump’s actions on Jan. 6. “Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone’s entitled to a mulligan. And I would hope, I would expect that each of those individuals would take a mulligan on each of those statements because, in each instance, they’re making it deeply personal. They’re ceasing to make it about policy. Instead, they’re getting up in people’s faces and making individuals feel perfectly uncomfortable. And that’s not helpful,” Lee said.
After being roundly criticized for his comment, Lee backtracked the next day, claiming he did not want to give Trump a “mulligan” for Jan. 6, blaming the media for twisting his words.
“My reference to taking a ‘mulligan’ was not to Trump but to Democratic politicians whose inflammatory comments had just been played for me on the air. I used the term only to avoid needlessly inflaming partisan passions,” he said in a series of tweets. “This is why no one trusts the media anymore,” Lee posted on social media.
Lee has several connections to the effort to overturn the 2020 election that he has not adequately explained.
Last fall, Bob Woodward and Robert Costa revealed Lee had been given a confidential memo from Trump campaign lawyer John Eastman arguing that then-Vice President Mike Pence could give the election to Trump if states won by Joe Biden submitted dueling slates of electors. At the time, Lee claimed he had investigated whether those alternate electors had materialized in the days leading up to Jan. 6 but could not find them.
In April, it was revealed Lee appeared to be much more involved in Trump’s postelection efforts than previously known. Leaked text messages between Lee and Meadows showed him asking for messaging guidance from the White House while Trump made his claims of massive election fraud.
“I know only this will end badly for the president unless we have the Constitution on our side. And unless these states submit new slates of Trump electors pursuant to state law, we do not,” Lee texted on Jan. 3.
The next day, Lee complained to Meadows he was “spending 14 hours a day for the last week” calling state legislators about alternate electors.
“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,” Lee texted.
Lee recently said he would be willing to speak with the Jan. 6 committee about his text messages with Meadows.
Lee did not join with some of his Senate colleagues on Jan. 6 to reject the electoral college results, which he steadfastly maintains vindicates his postelection activities.