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American Opinion: Texts show even 2 Trump true-believers finally knew it was all a big lie

Summary: On Jan. 6, after Trump supporters who’d been whipped into the aforementioned conspiracy frenzy attacked the Capitol, Roy and Lee both voted to certify Biden’s victory. It will be up to their constituents, and history, to determine whether that was too little, too late for them to claim, as they both do now, that they stepped up to protect democracy.

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah.
Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 30, 2020.
Ken Cedeno/Pool/Abaca Press/TNS
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It turns out Democrats and anti-Trump Republicans weren’t alone in concluding that Donald Trump’s campaign to overturn the 2020 election was illegitimate and dangerous. Two top Trump-supporting Republicans said as much in the run-up to Jan. 6, 2021, according to newly revealed texts in possession of the House committee investigating the Capitol insurrection.

Sen. Mike Lee of Utah and Rep. Chip Roy of Texas both initially supported Trump’s efforts to challenge Joe Biden’s victory, but the texts make clear that both became disillusioned as evidence of fraud failed to materialize and Trump ramped up his baseless conspiracy theories. Roy, as Trumpy a congressman as there was at the time, ultimately warned Trump’s chief of staff that their efforts were “driving a stake in the heart of the federal republic.” These texts should be required reading for those Trump supporters out there who still buy the lies.

The texts, obtained by CNN last week, were directed at Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows. They show the progression of two true believers in Trump’s election fraud lies, and how they gradually became convinced there was in fact no evidence.

The texts show Lee and Roy both were active participants early on in Trump’s attempt to overturn the election. Lee specifically encouraged the Trump campaign to work with lawyer Sidney Powell, calling her “a straight shooter,” until her subsequent conspiracy theorizing led him to warn Meadows that Trump should “disassociate himself” from Powell because of “potential defamation liability.” (That was prescient, as it turns out. Powell is currently facing a multibillion-dollar defamation lawsuit from an election technology company she allegedly slandered while spreading lies for Trump.)

Roy seemed an even more enthusiastic backer of Trump’s big lie, imploring Meadows shortly after the election: “Dude, we need ammo. We need fraud examples.” Alas, no such examples were forthcoming — for the simple reason that there was no significant fraud in the election.

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Days later, the texts show, Roy had grown alarmed at Trump’s increasingly unhinged public comments about the election. “We must urge the President to tone down the rhetoric, and approach the legal challenge firmly, intelligently and effectively,” he wrote, “without resorting to throwing wild desperate haymakers, or whipping his base into a conspiracy frenzy.”

By Dec. 31, Roy was convinced it was over. “The President should call everyone off … ,” he wrote to Meadows. “If we substitute the will of states through electors with a vote by Congress every 4 years, we have destroyed the electoral college.”

On Jan. 6, after Trump supporters who’d been whipped into the aforementioned conspiracy frenzy attacked the Capitol, Roy and Lee both voted to certify Biden’s victory. It will be up to their constituents, and history, to determine whether that was too little, too late for them to claim, as they both do now, that they stepped up to protect democracy.

This American Opinion editorial is the opinion of the editorial board of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

©2022 STLtoday.com . Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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