Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham sat through a presentation at the White House in January by Rudy Giuliani and his team billed as a demonstration of how former President Trump was cheated out of a second term in the 2020 election. But that's not what Graham saw. There were theories and reasoning and a mathematical formula, but nothing that struck him as concrete. "Give me some names," Graham told the lawyers, the Washington Post reports. "You need to put it in writing. You need to show me the evidence." The meeting is recounted in Peril, a new book by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa.
Graham and another Republican, Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, had decided to look into Trump's claims. After their meeting, Giuliani sent memos to Graham stating his case, which the senator sent to the Judiciary Committee's chief lawyer. Lee Holmes didn't see evidence, either; he saw theories about people voting twice or from addresses that don't exist, or ballots cast by dead people. "Holmes could find no public records that would even allow someone to reach these conclusions," the book says. The memos cited evidence that led Holmes to think that a few people had happened to die after casting their ballots.
The day of Graham's meeting with Giuliani, Lee was sent a memo from the White House claiming that Vice President Mike Pence could hand Trump an election victory on Jan. 6. The memo was written by John Eastman, a law professor and former clerk for Justice Clarence Thomas. It reasoned that Pence could gavel Trump into a second term because seven states had submitted dueling slates of electors to Congress, which Pence could cite in rejecting the electoral votes from those states. Lee, who didn't see the vice president as having that kind of leeway in certifying the election results, called officials in several of the states but couldn't see a future for Eastman's plan.
In the end, both senators voted to certify the results. Graham said in private that the pro-election fraud arguments were at a "third grade" level and Holmes also decided Giuliani's memos "added up to nothing," according to Peril. "Holmes found the sloppiness, the overbearing tone of certainty, and the inconsistencies disqualifying," the book says. Lee said on Fox News the next month that Trump should be excused for his incendiary speech to the crowd on Jan. 6. Eastman also addressed the mob just before it stormed the Capitol; the next week, Chapman University announced his retirement, effective immediately. (Read more Lindsey Graham stories.)