On January 6 of last year, a mob of pro-Trump extremists stormed the United States Capitol in a deadly failed insurrection, beating police officers, ransacking offices, shattering windows, and calling for the deaths of any politicians they deemed disloyal to former President Donald Trump. They did so in the hopes of overthrowing the will of the American people in order to install Trump for a second term.
Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas was a major promoter of Trump's election lies, and proclaiming to his followers just three days before the riots that they would not "go quietly into the night." Hours after the Capitol was finally cleared, Cruz continued with his opposition to the counting of electoral votes from swing states Trump lost.
This week, shortly before the year anniversary of the attack, Cruz delivered questions in a Senate committee hearing about law enforcement preparedness on January 6.
"We are approaching a solemn anniversary this week. It is an anniversary of a violent terrorist attack on the Capitol, where we saw the men and women of law enforcement demonstrate incredible courage, incredible bravery, risk their lives to defend the men and women who serve in this Capitol."18 U.S. Code § 2331 defines "domestic terrorism" as activities that
"involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State [that] appear to be intended ... to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping[.]"
Though the deadly failed insurrection amounts to terrorism by the U.S. Code's own definition, Cruz's comments immediately drew ire from conservatives, and especially from far-right Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who's been promoting the absurd fantasy that the riots were instigated by U.S. intelligence officials, and not the lies he dedicated much of his show to promoting.
Carlson, claiming that Cruz was one of the smartest members of Congress who never used words flippantly, said of the Senator:
“He described January 6 as a violent terrorist attack. Of all the things January 6 was, it was definitely not a violent terrorist attack. It wasn’t an insurrection. Was it a riot? Sure. It was not a violent terrorist attack. Sorry! So why are you telling us it was, Ted Cruz?”
On the night of January 6, Cruz appeared on Carlson's show for an interview, where he proceeded to grovel in an effort to earn back the praise of a far-right base.
Cruz started by telling Carlson:
"The way I phrased things yesterday, it was sloppy and it was, frankly, dumb."
Carlson then interjected:
"Whoa, whoa, whoa. I don't buy that. Look, I've known you a long time, since before you went to the Senate. You were a Supreme Court contender. You take words as seriously as any man who's served in the Senate. You repeated that phrase. I do not believe you used that accidentally, I just don't."
A stammering Cruz once again decried his phrasing as "sloppy" and said it led people to misunderstand him. The Senator claimed he was intending to decry "the limited number people who engaged in violent attacks against police officers."
Carlson responded by claiming that assaulting a police officer, while criminal, isn't terrorism. Cruz noted that he'd used the word "terrorist" to describe participants in the overwhelmingly peaceful protests against racist police brutality last summer as well.
After the segment, Cruz attempted to apologize for calling terrorists "terrorists" yet again—and was instantly met with ridicule.
And the debasement didn't do much for his effort to win back the love of the MAGA crowd.
Cruz is considered a potential Republican candidate in the 2024 election. We'll see how that goes.