The Republican senator from Texas has been condemned for his part in inciting a deadly riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6.
Days after unsuccessfully trying to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas is making plans to attend the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.
But on Jan. 6, Cruz was one of a handful of Republicans in the Senate objecting to the certification of the results of voting in the Electoral College during the usually pro forma joint session of Congress to do so. Even after a deadly coup attempt on the Capitol building by supporters of Donald Trump, Cruz voted twice to block electors who voted for Biden.
In the weeks since Biden's victory, Cruz has helped spread Trump's debunked claims of widespread voter fraud and cheating, falsely claiming that GOP observers were excluded from watching vote counts and asking the Supreme Court to intervene to block Biden electors. He even offered personally to argue Trump's case before the high court, though the given lawsuit was quickly rejected without a hearing.
"Voter fraud has posed a persistent challenge in our elections, although its breadth and scope are disputed. By any measure, the allegations of fraud and irregularities in the 2020 election exceed any in our lifetimes," he and other Republican senators said in a joint statement released on Jan. 2. "And those allegations are not believed just by one individual candidate. Instead, they are widespread. Reuters/Ipsos polling, tragically, shows that 39% of Americans believe 'the election was rigged.' That belief is held by Republicans (67%), Democrats (17%), and Independents (31%)."
PolitiFact rated this same claim "mostly false."
Still, Cruz demanded a commission be formed to conduct an emergency audit to determine whether Biden was the legitimate winner.
As thousands of violent Trump backers stormed the Capitol during the Electoral College certification process, Cruz's campaign sent out a fundraising text bragging, "I'm leading the fight to reject electors from key states unless there is an emergency audit of the election results. Will you stand with me?"
While Cruz denounced the violent insurrection, the New Yorker reported on Friday that rioters believed Cruz backed their efforts. "Cruz would want us to do this, so I think we're good," one rioter said as he watched another rifle through papers on a desk in Cruz's Capitol office, according to writer Luke Mogelson.
Not long after the efforts of Cruz and other Republican lawmakers to overturn Biden's win failed, Cruz's communications director resigned, reportedly in response to his actions.
Two major Texas newspapers condemned Cruz.
The editorial board of the San Antonio Express-News called for "expulsion for enabler Cruz" over "his efforts to undermine the presidential election."
"It was Cruz who gathered support of other senators and senators-elect to object to the formal counting of electoral votes, not because there was voter fraud but because of the 'unprecedented allegations of voter fraud, violations and lax enforcement of election law, and other voting irregularities,'" the board wrote. "It was Cruz who cynically said to Democrats on the Senate floor before the mob descended: 'I understand your guy is winning right now.'"
The Houston Chronicle's editorial board called for Cruz to resign: "A brilliant and frequent advocate before the U.S. Supreme Court and a former Texas solicitor general, Cruz knew exactly what he was doing, what he was risking and who he was inciting as he stood on the Senate floor Wednesday and passionately fed the farce of election fraud even as a seething crowd of believers was being whipped up by President Trump a short distance away."
While the editorial board acknowledged that Cruz was unlikely to be prosecuted and was not up for reelection until 2024, it urged "another consequence, one with growing support across Texas: Resign."
Cruz has rejected calls to step down.
The storming of the Capitol has resulted in heightened security measures in the District of Columbia and forced changes to the usual inauguration ceremony — already scaled down significantly due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Wednesday, the Associated Press reported that Biden would not travel by Amtrak train from his home in Delaware out of security concerns. Biden famously used the rail system to travel between Delaware and Washington, D.C., throughout his 36-year Senate career.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.