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Cleveland • Sen. Mike Lee said Tuesday that the head of the Republican Party harmed Donald Trump by denying a protest roll-call vote and owes the presumed nominee and delegates an apology.
The Utah Republican also said that he believes Trump would have claimed the nomination even if delegates had been able to cast their ballots at they saw fit a move halted with the adoption of rules after a contentious floor fight.
"You can disagree with me on this [but] I think [Republican Chairman] Reince Priebus owes Donald Trump an apology and I believe he owes delegates at large an apology," the senator told a crowd of young delegates Tuesday afternoon.
Lee was part of the effort to force a vote on the convention rules with the ultimate goal of letting delegates vote their conscience rather than being bound to vote for a certain candidate. Convention officials denied such a vote, leaving Lee and others fuming that party leaders had shut down an open process.
As the GOP prepared to give Trump the party nod, Lee said he is still on the fence as to whether he'll support him. But Lee said there's little doubt Trump would be the nominee and that's the case whether there had been a rules roll-call vote or not.
"I do not believe that anyone other than Donald Trump is going to be the nominee," Lee said. "Donald Trump won the mathematical formula. He won the requisite number of primaries and caucuses and became the presumptive nominee. I am 99.9% certain that this week he'll become the actual nominee."
But, Lee added, "I am equally certain that the same thing would have been true if we kept our rules similar to how our rules have been in the past."
By denying delegates an actual vote, Lee said, the party created a "toxic environment" that will make it even harder for Trump skeptics to unite behind the nominee.