Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), apparently cognizant of the prevailing political winds, talked to NBC's Dallas/Fort Worth affiliate yesterday and didn't hesitate to hold Donald Trump responsible, at least in part, for Wednesday's mob violence at the U.S. Capitol.
"I do think the president's rhetoric and his language has been over the line," the Texas Republican said. "I think it was irresponsible, I think it was reckless and I think he needs to recognize it." Cruz added, in reference to Trump, "Look, I think he plainly bears some responsibility."
The comments were notable in their own right as a reflection of Trump's current weakness, but the larger context came with a degree of irony: Cruz was also one of the ringleaders of the effort to block certification of President-elect Joe Biden's victory for reasons he's struggled to defend.
With this in mind, a member of the Senate Democratic leadership today called for the Texas senator to resign.
Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, the third-most senior Democrat in the Senate, is calling on Republican Sens. Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz to resign, accusing them of inciting Wednesday's riots at the Capitol. "Any Senator who stands up and supports the power of force over the power of democracy has broken their oath of office," Murray said in a statement. "Senators Hawley and Cruz should resign."
We spoke at length earlier about Hawley, his misdeeds, and the unusual amount of pressure he's facing to step down from office.
But the political indictment against Cruz is just as compelling. As regular readers know, 11 Senate Republicans, led by Cruz, announced plans last weekend to try to block confirmation of Biden's election victory. The far-right contingent defended its gambit with a deeply strange written statement that (a) points to the Compromise of 1877 as if it were a good thing, which is insane; and (b) fails to make any actual arguments, instead citing public "distrust" that was created by a Republican misinformation campaign.
It wasn't just Democrats who were quick to denounce Cruz's dangerous campaign. "A fundamental, defining feature of a democratic republic is the right of the people to elect their own leaders," Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) said in a statement of his own. "The effort by Senators Hawley, Cruz, and others to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in swing states like Pennsylvania directly undermines this right.... The senators justify their intent by observing that there have been many allegations of fraud. But allegations of fraud by a losing campaign cannot justify overturning an election. They fail to acknowledge that these allegations have been adjudicated in courtrooms across America and were found to be unsupported by evidence."
Soon after, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) added, "The egregious ploy to reject electors may enhance the political ambition of some, but dangerously threatens our Democratic Republic.... "I could never have imagined seeing these things in the greatest democracy in the world. Has ambition so eclipsed principle?" Romney, calling out Cruz by name, went on to describe the right-wing anti-election posture as "nonsense."
The Washington Post's George Will, a prominent conservative voice, said Cruz was among a small handful of Republicans who will now "wear a scarlet 'S' as a seditionist."
Adding insult to injury -- in this instance, almost literally -- the Texas Republican appears to have sent out a fundraising appeal, bragging about his attempts to undermine democracy, while the attack on the U.S. Capitol was underway.
After the mob had been cleared from the building, as some Republicans backed off from anti-election objections in the wake of the riot, Cruz followed through anyway.
There's nothing to suggest the Texas senator will consider giving up his seat, but given the circumstances, Patty Murray's call is hardly outlandish.