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U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz denounced former President Donald Trump for suggesting a “termination” of the Constitution in order to overturn the 2020 election, while also framing the comment as an oversensationalized distraction. The Texas Republican offered his remarks three days after Trump’s initial comment and after prodding from reporters.
“Oh listen, of course what he said was wrong,” Cruz told Nexstar on Tuesday. “But I also think the media is engaged in a feeding frenzy. I’ve never seen reporters so excited as to run up to every Republican and say, ‘Please, please, please attack Donald Trump.’”
Cruz, a self-identified constitutionalist who prides himself on having memorized the Constitution as a youth, made the comment after Trump called in a Truth Social post Saturday for “the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution” in order to rehash the 2020 election.
Trump’s post was a major escalation in his false claim that there was an orchestrated scheme to steal the election from him for now-President Joe Biden. Although Trump has repeatedly claimed he never lost the election, Saturday’s post was the first time he overtly called for overturning the country’s legal backbone. Trump, the only president to ever be impeached twice and who left office on the heels of a deadly mob that attacked the U.S. Capitol, hoping to overturn the 2020 election results, announced Nov. 15 that he is running for the White House again.
Several other Senate Republicans quickly repudiated the former president’s post, including U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, who called Trump’s remarks “irresponsible.” Cornyn added the Truth Social post could harm Trump’s chances of becoming the Republican presidential nominee in 2024.
Before his Tuesday interview, Cruz had largely demurred on directly addressing Trump when asked about the Truth Social posts, instead emphasizing the authority of the Constitution. In a statement responding to whether he believes the Constitution should be terminated, he bluntly said “of course not.”
“The constitution is enduring and it will endure for millennia,” Cruz said during the Tuesday interview with Nexstar. “I think the constitution has defended our liberties and it created this nation, it created the structure of our government. It protects our fundamental rights. And that’s going to continue long beyond any of us being in office.”
During Trump’s presidency, Cruz wasn’t shy in his disdain for reporters asking Republican senators about the Trump tweet du jour, saying the president’s often stream-of-consciousness posts were just noise around major policy decisions. Cruz often says he put his personal reservations against Trump aside in order to advance a common policy agenda, despite Trump’s vicious personal attacks against the Texas senator during the 2016 primary.
Cruz echoed the sentiment Tuesday, pressing for reporters to focus instead on border security, inflation and energy prices. But Trump’s critics on both sides of the aisle stressed that the former president’s remarks were a dangerous step up of his disregard for democratic norms and were nothing to sneeze at.
“Let me just say, anyone seeking the presidency who thinks that the Constitution could somehow be suspended or not followed, it seems to me would have a very hard time being sworn in as president of the United States,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told CNN.
Cruz hasn’t yet ruled out another presidential run in 2024, despite Trump’s announcement last month that he would try again to win back the White House. Cruz says he is focused on reelection to the Senate in 2024 but is keeping his options open.