Ted Cruz refuses to acknowledge that President Joe Biden was legitimately elected

Nearly two years after former President Donald Trump’s supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol and delayed certification of the 2020 election, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz still won’t say President Joe Biden was legitimately elected.

During a confrontational appearance Monday on “The View,” the Texas Republican was grilled about his continued support for Trump, his onetime opponent for the Republican nomination to be president. Alyssa Farah Griffin, a former communications director in Trump’s White House who has since become fiercely critical of the former president, pressed Cruz on whether he believed Biden had legitimately won the 2020 election. But Cruz redirected, instead focusing on Democrats who had previously bemoaned their own electoral losses.

“Biden is the president today,” Cruz said. “There are a lot of folks in the media that try to, anytime a Republican is in front of a TV camera, try to say the election was fair and square and legitimate. You know who y’all don’t do that to? You don’t do it to Hillary Clinton.”

“So it’s illegitimate when Republicans win but not when Democrats win?” Cruz added.

Cruz alluded to when Clinton said George W. Bush had been “selected not elected” after the Supreme Court effectively settled 2000 presidential election and Clinton’s criticism of the Electoral College for costing her the White House although she won the popular vote in 2016.

Ana Navarro, a former Republican strategist who co-hosts the show, retorted that Clinton had conceded the election to Trump in 2016. Whoopi Goldberg, another co-host, pushed back on drawing comparisons to the rioters who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, saying, “We may not like when Republicans win, but we don’t go and we don’t storm.”

There has been no evidence of widespread electoral fraud in the 2020 election, and Congress certified the election results on a bipartisan basis.

Cruz was one of the senators leading efforts to challenge the 2020 election results on Jan. 6, 2021. He filed to contest the electoral results from Arizona just before rioters breached the Capitol. He still voted against certifying the state’s election results once lawmakers reconvened after the attack.

Cruz has since continued to defend his actions that day, saying he’d called for a 10-day emergency audit on the election results that would have wrapped up before Inauguration Day. He also broke from the rest of his party on the Senate Rules Committee last month and voted against advancing a bill that would elevate the threshold for lawmakers to contest presidential elections.

During his appearance on “The View,” Cruz also defended his support for Trump after the then-GOP frontrunner mocked Cruz’s wife and father during the 2016 Republican primaries. Cruz called Trump’s language “idiotic” and said his wife and father laughed it off.

“We had a primary where Donald Trump and I beat the living crap out of each other,” Cruz said. “I could have decided my feelings are hurt, I’m going to take the ball and go home and not do my job. But … we have an opportunity to make a difference for this country.”

The TV appearance also included drama from the audience when a group of climate activists began chanting about the need to address climate change. The hosts became visibly irritated and told the protesters to let them do their jobs before the show cut to a commercial break to clear the protesters out.

“I’m really glad you don’t have a Van Gogh on the wall,” Cruz said.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2022/10/24/ted-cruz-2020-election-january-6/.

The Texas Tribune is a member-supported, nonpartisan newsroom informing and engaging Texans on state politics and policy. Learn more at texastribune.org.

Ted Cruz votes against bipartisan bill to stop another insurrection

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, broke from his own party in voting against a bipartisan bill that would bar him from singlehandedly objecting to presidential election results, as he did on Jan. 6, 2021.

The bill, dubbed the Electoral Count Reform and Presidential Transition Improvement Act, aims to prevent another attack on the U.S. Capitol like the one that occurred on Jan. 6, 2021. It clarifies procedural ambiguities that former President Donald Trump tried to exploit in an attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Sens. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, and Susan Collins, R-Maine, sponsored the bill, and it has the support of Democrats and Republicans alike, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. But during a Senate Rules Committee vote on the bill, Cruz objected, saying the bill undermines states’ constitutional autonomy in running their elections and therefore opens the door for voter fraud.

“This bill is a bad bill. This bill is bad law. It’s bad policy and it’s bad for democracy,” Cruz said at the meeting.

“I understand why Democrats are supporting this bill,” he continued. “What I don’t understand is why Republicans are supporting it.”

Cruz was the only Republican on the committee to oppose the bill Tuesday, with 14 other senators on the committee, which includes both parties’ Senate leaders, voting to advance it. The bill now heads to the full Senate, where it will likely meet overwhelming bipartisan support.

Cruz played a key role on the day of the insurrection. Both he and Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri led campaigns to encourage members to object to the certification of the election results.

Meanwhile, Trump and his allies were also pressuring Vice President Mike Pence, who presided over the Senate, to refuse to certify the results, whipping protesters stationed outside of the Capitol into a frenzy until they ultimately broke through a line of police and stormed into the building.

Even after the attack, Cruz voted against certifying the election results in Arizona, repeating Trump talking points that cast doubt on the state’s results.

The rest of the Senate overwhelmingly voted against Cruz’s objection, and the votes were certified.

Sen. John Cornyn, Texas’ senior Republican senator, voted to reject Cruz’s objection on Jan. 6. But most Texas Republicans in the House voted with Cruz at the time.

The bill clarifies that the vice president’s role in certifying Electoral College votes is completely ceremonial. It also raises the threshold for objecting to election results from a single member in each chamber to one-fifth of each chamber, essentially making Cruz’s Arizona objection vote meaningless.

It also clarifies the emergency situations that allow a state to extend voting periods, allows courts to force a governor to certify electors and stops state legislatures from creating their own slate of electors.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-West Virginia, was part of the working group for the bill and said it was the product of weeks of negotiations and consultations with legal experts. McConnell said he was “proud to vote for it and help advance it.”

“The chaos that came to a head Jan. 6 of last year strongly suggests that we find careful ways to clarify and streamline the process,” he said.

The House passed its own version of the bill last week, which included more stringent guardrails, including a one-third minimum threshold for members to object to election results. The differences between the versions have been a source of tension between the two chambers, with McConnell saying the Senate version “is the only chance to get an outcome and make law.”

Cruz aside, all other members of the Senate committee praised one another for reaching a bipartisan solution. The meeting closed to applause.

“This isn’t just another vote at another markup. This vote is about living up to our oath of office,” Sen. Alex Padilla, D-California, who previously served as California’s secretary of state, said during the meeting. “That includes working to ensure an insurrection, that an attack on our democracy never occurs again.”

Liz Cheney says she will do whatever it takes to keep Donald Trump from the White House, even if it means leaving the GOP

By Matthew Choi, The Texas Tribune

U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney said she would do “whatever it takes” to make sure former President Donald Trump is not the GOP presidential nominee during the 2024 elections, including stumping for Democrats running against election deniers running as Republicans.

When asked by Texas Tribune CEO Evan Smith if she would consider running for president toward that end, the Republican congresswoman reiterated she would do everything in her power to prevent the former president from representing her party in the next presidential election.

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“I certainly will do whatever it takes to make sure Donald Trump isn't anywhere close to the Oval Office,” Cheney said during the closing night of The Texas Tribune Festival.

Cheney, who lost to a Republican primary challenger in August but will continue as vice chair of the House Jan. 6 Committee until she leaves office in January, said she continues to identify as a Republican, celebrating the legacy of the likes of Ronald Reagan and Dwight D. Eisenhower.

But she said she would no longer be a Republican if Trump gets the party’s nomination in 2024.

“I'm going to make sure Donald Trump, make sure he's not the nominee,” Cheney said. “And if he is the nominee, I won't be a Republican.”

Cheney maintained that she is an ardent conservative on policy issues, voting in near lockstep with Trump’s legislative agenda when he was in office. But she warned a House Republican majority would give outsized power to members who have been staunch allies of the former president and his efforts to keep the White House, including U.S. Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert and Jim Jordan.

Cheney excoriated Trump for his failure to call off rioters at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. She said without equivocation that any decision by the investigating committee about whether there should be criminal prosecution would be unanimous across the seven Democrats and two Republicans. She did not say whether the committee would decide in favor of a criminal prosecution.

“One of the things that has surprised me the most about my work on this committee is how sophisticated the plan was that Donald Trump was involved in and oversaw every step of the way,” Cheney said. “It was a multipart plan that he oversaw, he was involved in personally and directly.

“While leaders in Congress were begging him, ‘Please, tell the mob to go home,’ Donald Trump wouldn't,” Cheney said. “And just set the politics aside for a minute and think to yourself, ‘What kind of human being does that?’”

The committee is gearing up to wrap up its work in the coming weeks and is slated to meet this Wednesday for another public hearing, offering no details about what will be discussed then. She said next week’s hearing is unlikely to be the committee’s last, despite committee Chair Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., suggesting the opposite earlier this week.

When asked if she would like Trump to testify before the committee, she paused for a moment before offering the following: “Any interaction that Donald Trump has with the committee will be under oath and subject to penalty of perjury.”

Cheney suffered a precipitous loss in the Republican primary for her Wyoming seat for her role on the committee, and she said Saturday that she would not vote for the Republican nominee for her seat, Harriet Hageman, in the general election.

But she challenged the audience not to question her ability to keep fighting against Trump after she leaves the House.

When asked about her own presidential ambitions, Cheney demurred.

“It's really important not to just immediately jump to the horse race and to think about what we need as a country,” Cheney said.

Her criticisms aren’t limited to the former president. Cheney also flatly said she does not believe House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy should ever become Speaker of the House, which would put him second in line to the presidency behind the vice president.

“At every single moment, when our time of testing came and Kevin had to make a decision … he’s made the politically easy-for-him, or the politically expedient, decision instead of what the country needed,” she said.

But Cheney didn’t give up hope in her party, saying: “I think we have to have a Republican Party that can be trusted to fight for” issues such as limited government and strong national security.

Cheney’s father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, is another vocal opponent of Trump. He called the former president a coward and the greatest “threat to our republic” in history in a campaign ad supporting his daughter’s primary run. Liz Cheney said that her father offered her a piece of advice on New Year’s Day this year: “‘Defend the republic, daughter.’ And I will,” she said.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2022/09/24/liz-cheney-texas-tribune-festival/.

The Texas Tribune is a member-supported, nonpartisan newsroom informing and engaging Texans on state politics and policy. Learn more at texastribune.org.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott demands Biden pull his student loan relief plan

Gov. Greg Abbott joined 21 Republican governors Monday urging President Joe Biden to scrap his student loan relief plan, asserting that the thousands of dollars in individual debt relief would harm the working class.

The governors wrote in a letter that the loan forgiveness plan offers a bailout for a minority of Americans who are largely well off, arguing that those “with the most debt, such as $50,000 or more, almost exclusively have graduate degrees, meaning hourly workers will pay off the master’s and doctorate degrees of high salaried lawyers, doctors, and professors.”

But most of those people would not be eligible for the loan relief program announced last month, which disqualifies anyone earning over $125,000. Eligible applicants are limited to $10,000 in relief, unless they are recipients of Pell Grants, intended for low-income students, in which case they can get up to $20,000 in relief. The program also proposes a new repayment plan that caps monthly undergraduate loan payments at 5% of a borrower’s discretionary income — cutting monthly payments roughly in half.

The White House justifies the program with the skyrocketing price of a college education and the increasing demand for secondary degrees to remain competitive in the job market. The typical undergraduate student who takes out loans leaves college with almost $25,000 in debt, according to the Education Department. Mounting costs of education have also discouraged thousands of students from completing their studies, saddling them with debt but no degree, the White House argues. The White House also cast the relief program as part of its pandemic response.

In 2021, 56% of students who graduated from four-year public universities in Texas had approximately $25,000 in student debt, according to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

In 2019, 81% of Black students who graduated with bachelor’s degrees in Texas had some kind of debt, compared with 52% of white graduates in Texas. And the average debt load for Black graduates was about $4,000 higher than for white graduates, hovering around $30,311.

Student loan forgiveness has long been a major policy objective among Democrats, including the 2020 Biden campaign. Its backers say student debts are both holding back graduates from economic mobility and discouraging potential students from pursuing educations that could improve their financial prospects.

But there are stark divisions even among Democrats over how far student loan forgiveness should go. Progressives were unsatisfied with the amount of relief in Biden’s plan, with U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders calling for free higher education and a complete cancellation of student loans.

There are limits to Biden’s power in student loan forgiveness. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi contends that only Congress, as the keeper of the purse strings, can completely erase all student loan debt, and Republicans, including U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, have challenged the legal authority of Biden’s more modest plan. The administration constitutionally can only spend money appropriated to it by Congress.

“This administration is exceeding its legal authority and illegally burdening hard-working Americans with debts they didn’t take on themselves,” Cruz said in a statement last month.

Legal issues aside, Republicans rebuffed the notion of loan forgiveness altogether, arguing it is unfair to students who have paid off their loans and fearing any further surge in cash could exacerbate the nation’s high inflation. They also protest against tax dollars from Americans who never went to college going toward student loan relief.

“Simply put, your plan rewards the rich and punishes the poor,” the governors wrote in their Monday letter.

Other signatories run the ideological gamut of Republican governors, including hardliners like Ron DeSantis of Florida and moderates like Larry Hogan of Maryland.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.