The 2019 Texas Tribune Festival

Ted Cruz took issue with Trump's call with Ukraine's president, but he expected it to be worse

The U.S. senator spoke at the 2019 Texas Tribune Festival in an interview with MSNBC anchor Chris Hayes.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, spoke at The Texas Tribune Festival on Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019.

While U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz expressed unhappiness Saturday with some of Donald Trump's comments related to the president's call with Ukraine's leader, the Texas Republican emphatically pushed back against the Democratic movement to impeach the commander in chief.

Cruz said that he had read both the recently released whistleblower complaint and the readout of Trump's July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, both of which characterize Trump as soliciting the Ukrainian government's assistance in investigating unsubstantiated allegations against the business activities of former Vice President Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden.

"I expected it to be" worse than it was, Cruz said of the phone call summary. He made the remarks in a Texas Tribune Festival interview with MSNBC Host Chris Hayes.

But, he said, he found the president's comments on Biden to be troubling. On the call with Zelensky, Trump said there was talk that Biden had called for the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor who was investigating his son.

"I would have wished the president have not gone down that road," Cruz said.

"Donald Trump says things frequently that I wish he wouldn't say," he elaborated. "I don't have control over that. The fact that he shouldn't have gone down that road is a long way from saying, 'Therefore, he should be impeached and forcibly removed from office after the American people have voted in a presidential election.'

"That is a big threshold, and there are a lot of Democrats who I think ... they're not focused on the facts. They want him impeached, and whatever the facts are are fine."

Cruz defended other comments Trump made, specifically a line Hayes quoted from the readout: "I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it. I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike," in reference to a cybersecurity firm hired by the Democratic National Committee to investigate the hacking of some accounts in 2016.

"That ask is unequivocally proper, and it cannot be the case that it is inappropriate from a law enforcement matter for the federal government to investigate foreign interference in our elections given that we've been doing this for 2 1/2 years," Cruz said.

Hayes pressed Cruz, asking if he understood the Trump reference to Crowdstrike, to which Cruz replied, "I have no idea."

After quoting parts of the readout, Hayes explained a conspiracy theory surrounding Crowdstrike.

"I don't know what happened or not. My point is that asking for an investigation into foreign interference into our elections is a perfectly appropriate law enforcement function," Cruz answered. "And you believe that because for two years on MSNBC, the only topic of discussion has been Russia, Russia, Russia and interfering in our elections. ... That's not an illegitimate purpose."