U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is fueling new speculation about his political future following a surprise meeting Tuesday with President-elect Donald Trump.
Without advance notice, the former rivals privately huddled at Trump Tower in New York, where the billionaire has been hunkered down weighing whom he wants to staff his administration. After the meeting, Cruz's team insisted he made the trip to Manhattan simply to see how he can help Trump as a senator, but it did not take long for other theories to take hold.
By the end of the day, Bloomberg Politics was reporting that Cruz is under consideration for attorney general, citing an anonymous source. In response, a Cruz aide pointed to a statement earlier Tuesday that said Cruz stands ready to assist the Trump administration on behalf of his constituents in Texas.
Cruz joining Trump's administration would amount to an incredible twist in the senator's complicated relationship with Trump. The two bitterly battled in the primaries, and Cruz pointedly declined to endorse his party's nominee at the GOP national convention in July before finally coming around two months later.
Shortly after he dropped out of the presidential race in May, Cruz made clear he was not interested in at least one job in Washington: U.S. Supreme Court justice. But in the week since Trump's upset victory over Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, Cruz has not ruled out taking a job in Trump's administration.
Asked Tuesday evening in Austin — prior to the Bloomberg report — whether there was a spot for Cruz in the Trump administration, Cruz strategist Jason Johnson did not say either way.
"Truly don't know," Johnson repeatedly said while acknowledging reports that the two had met in New York. Johnson was speaking as part of a panel discussion on the future of the GOP after Trump's election.
Cruz apparently escaped reporters' attention as he slipped into Trump Tower earlier Tuesday. Once word got out, Cruz's team confirmed the meeting had happened.
"Sen. Cruz is pleased to have the opportunity to meet with President-elect Trump in New York today," Cruz spokeswoman Catherine Frazier said in a statement. "The American people issued a clear mandate to ‘drain the swamp’ in Washington, repeal Obamacare and start over with cost-effective, patient-centered health care reform, appoint constitutionalist judges to the Supreme Court, secure our southern border and enforce immigration laws, and enact policies that will create more good-paying jobs for the American people. On behalf of the 27 million Texans he represents, the senator looks forward to assisting the Trump Administration in achieving these objectives."
Asked whether the meeting was at all about an administration job for Cruz, Frazier reiterated the meeting was about how the senator can help Trump "implement the conservative policies that were campaigned on."
Trump, for his part, did not divulge any details Tuesday about the transition process. But minutes after the Bloomberg report, the president-elect did offer some reassurance on Twitter.
"Very organized process taking place as I decide on Cabinet and many other positions," Trump said. "I am the only one who knows who the finalists are!"
- Among some Texas Republicans, the race is on for a job in Trump's Washington.
- Cruz finally endorsed Trump in September after a months-long holdout.