Senators Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) and Mike Lee (R., Utah) personally investigated some of former president Trump’s claims of election fraud and concluded they were meritless, according to the book Peril by Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Robert Costa.
After requesting proof of Trump’s fraud claims, Graham received a collection of memos on January 4 from lawyer Rudy Giuliani entitled “Voting Irregularities, Impossibilities, and Illegalities in the 2020 General Election.” The memos alleged various irregularities in voting in swing states, such as hundreds of dead people voting in Georgia and 12,000 “overvotes” in Arizona, when voters select more than the maximum number of choices on a ballot.
Graham had his top lawyer on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Lee Holmes, vet the claims in the memos, Woodward and Costa write. Holmes reportedly thought that, based on Giuliani’s own evidence, the claims of dead people voting involved people who in fact died after the election. Additionally, Holmes found that out of the alleged 12,000 overvotes in Arizona, just 180 were cast in the presidential election.
Graham viewed the arguments backing up the election fraud narrative as suitable for “third grade,” the authors wrote. The South Carolina senator reportedly complained to Trump about his continued voter fraud allegations in a phone call this summer, saying “you f***ed your presidency up.”
Graham initially opposed Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign, but has since supported the former president on various issues. The senator told National Review in June that if Republicans retake the House and Senate in the 2022 midterms, and Trump is seen as helping this, then “nobody will beat him.”
“I told the president, when you’re looking to back somebody, whether you like them or not – if you’re looking for revenge, which tastes always good – remember that your legacy is at stake here, your viability as a future political figure is at stake here,” Graham said at the time. “Because if we lose another cycle, I think there will be an awareness that we have to make a fundamental change.”
Lee investigated a separate claim after receiving a memo from the White House on January 4, which asserted that former vice president Pence could call the election for Trump because seven states submitted two slates of electors. The alternate “electors” were comprised of Trump supporters baselessly claiming to be legitimate electors.
While Lee realized that the alternate “electors” were just Trump supporters claiming to represent their states, the senator called officials in various states to discuss the memo’s claim, and appeared to refer to those calls in a town hall meeting from January 27. No state was slated to approve an alternate slate of electors, Lee said.
Both Lee and Graham voted to certify the results of the election on January 6, when congressmen evacuated the Capitol following a riot of Trump supporters. Before the certification, Lee sent colleagues a letter from Representative Chip Roy (R., Texas) objecting to overturning President Biden’s win.