Senator Ted Cruz on Thursday denounced the statement President Trump issued after a mob of his supporters descended on the Capitol building Wednesday, forcing lawmakers to evacuate and unleashing a wave of violence that has resulted in the deaths of five Americans, including one Capitol Police officer.
“The president’s language and rhetoric often goes too far. I think, yesterday in particular, the president’s language and rhetoric crossed the line and it was reckless,” Cruz said in an interview with ABC13 Houston.
“I disagree with it, and I have disagreed with the president’s language and rhetoric for the last four years,” the Texas Republican added. “If you looked to what I have said, you will not find me say the same language or rhetoric.”
Trump refused to strongly condemn the violence perpetrated by his supporters despite his advisers reportedly urging him to do so as the chaos unfolded Wednesday afternoon. He eventually released a pre-recorded video statement, hours into the riot, in which he said he “loved” the people who surrounded the Capitol but urged them to go home peacefully.
“This was a fraudulent election but we can’t play into the hands of these people. We have to have peace. So go home, we love you and you’re very special. You’ve seen what happens. You’ve seen the ways others are treated which are so bad and so evil. I know how you feel. But go home and go home in peace,” Trump said.
The riot occurred after Trump held a rally in front of the White House and repeated his claim that the presidential election was rife with voter fraud and that he had in fact won a second term. He urged his supporters to go to the Capitol, where Congress was in the process of certifying the electoral votes from each state, and “cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women.”
“We’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them,” Trump told the crowd during the rally. “Because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.”
The large crowd of Trump supporters eventually forced their way past Capitol Police and into the Capitol building, causing lawmakers to have to evacuate the Senate, where a joint session of Congress to certify the election results was ongoing. Five people died as a result of the clashes.
Earlier this week, Cruz led a group of eleven Republican senators in announcing that they would object to the certification of one or more states’ electoral votes. He was one of six senators who continued to object to the certification even after a number of Senate Republicans who had previously committed to doing so backtracked, citing the violence that unfolded in the Capitol hours earlier.
While they haven’t explicitly named Cruz, Republican Senators Marco Rubio and Tom Cotton have condemned colleagues who objected to certification and sent fundraising emails touting their commitment to Trump as the Capitol was being overrun, as Cruz did.
Cruz rejected the notion that his objection was at all related to the rioting in the Thursday interview.
“I do think it’s really cynical for them to try and take advantage of what was a tragic event that occurred yesterday in Washington – the terrorist attack on the Capitol was despicable,” Cruz said.