Ted Cruz apologizes repeatedly for criticizing Capitol rioters

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It's not the first time, however, that the Texas senator has defined the Jan. 6 attack as 'terrorism.'

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R) spent Thursday, the first anniversary of the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, scrambling to apologize to the rioters themselves, after he appeared to refer to them as "terrorists" during a Senate hearing one day earlier.

Cruz, one of eight Republican senators who voted to reject President Joe Biden's Electoral College victory on Jan. 6, 2021, the day of the violent attack, said at Wednesday's hearing that the date marked a "solemn anniversary" of what he described as a "violent terrorist attack on the Capitol."

On Thursday, he appeared on Tucker Carlson's nightly Fox News show to walk back those comments.

"The way I phrased things yesterday — it was sloppy and it was, frankly, dumb," Cruz said. "As a result of my sloppy phrasing, it's caused a lot of people to misunderstand what I meant."

The Texas Republican then specified that the only terrorists were the "limited number of people who engaged in violent attacks against police officers" on Jan. 6, 2021, and not the many others who illegally breached the Capitol, halted the certification of the Electoral College vote, threatened the lives of federal officials, and caused $1.5 million in damage to the seat of government.

Shortly after the interview, Cruz posted several tweets sharing the video and reiterating his regret over the "dumb choice of words."

"I was NOT calling the thousands of peaceful protestors on Jan 6 terrorists. I would never do so," he insisted. "I have repeatedly, explicitly said the OPPOSITE—denouncing the Democrats' shameful efforts to do so & to try to paint every Trump voter in America as 'terrorists' & 'insurrectionists.'"

"The snippet from yesterday didn't include my passionate & repeated defense of the patriots and peaceful protestors supporting President Trump," he added. "I'm sorry that that 20-second clip led so many to misunderstand what I was saying."

A Cruz spokesperson did not immediately respond to an inquiry for this story.

However, Wednesday was far from the only time Cruz called the Jan. 6 attack "terrorism."

On Jan. 7, 2021, one day after the riot, he called the event a "terrorist attack" and a "horrific assault on our democracy."

In a television interview that night, he called it "despicable" and "an assault on the citadel of democracy."

The following month, he said in a statement, "As I've said repeatedly, what we saw on January 6 was a despicable terrorist attack on the United States Capitol and those who carried it out should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

Last May, he once again called the insurrection a "terrorist attack on the Capitol," saying in a statement that it was "a dark moment in our nation's history, and I fully support the ongoing law enforcement investigations into anyone involved. Everyone who attacked the Capitol must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and brought to justice."

Federal law enforcement officials agree with his original assessment.

Reuters noted Thursday that prosecutors have internally categorized more than 150 insurrection-related cases as "domestic terrorism," and, according to Politico, "depredation" of federal property is on the list of terrorism crimes.

Some 45 of the attackers have been charged with "depredation" so far.

Cruz is among a number of leading Republicans who have either ignored or downplayed the Jan. 6 anniversary. Many GOP leaders instead have accused Democrats of "exploiting" the tragedy and carrying out "brazen politicization" of the attempted coup.

"It has been stunning to see some Washington Democrats try to exploit this anniversary to advance partisan policy goals that predated the event," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement on Thursday.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, meanwhile, claimed in his own letter to colleagues earlier in the week that Democrats were "using it as a partisan political weapon to further divide our country."

"Unfortunately, one year later, the majority party seems no closer to answering the central question of how the Capitol was left so unprepared and what must be done to ensure it never happens again," he said.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.