WASHINGTON D.C., DC — Following Wednesday afternoon's violent riots at the U.S. Capitol during a Pro-Trump rally, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) sat down with CBS19 to discuss the chaotic events and what's next for the Republican party.
"Well yesterday's event was tragic," Sen. Cruz said. "We saw a terrorist attack on the United States Capitol, it was despicable, it was an assault. And every one of those violent criminals who attacked the Capitol, they should be fully prosecuted. And they should spend a long, long time in jail. It was really a sad day for the country to see violence overwhelming the grounds of the Capitol building."
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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, along with dozens of other Democratic members of Congress, are publicly calling for the 25th Amendment to be invoked and for President Donald Trump to be removed from office in response to Wednesday's riot at the U.S. Capitol by the president's supporters.
The 25th Amendment allows for the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet to declare the president unfit for office. The vice president then becomes acting president.
At a press conference Thursday afternoon, Pelosi said "this is urgent" and Trump is a "very dangerous person" and needs to be removed before President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration.
Pelosi said that if Vice President Pence and Trump's Cabinet don't act, then Congress may move forward with impeaching Trump again. While Pelosi acknowledged there's just 13 days until Biden's inauguration and Trump is out of office, she said that "any day can be a horror show for America."
Republican Illinois Congressman Adam Kinzinger is so far the only GOP member to join the calls for Trump's removal.
"Well, I think the president's rhetoric was irresponsible, I think it was reckless," Sen. Cruz said. "And I don't think it was remotely helpful. I think the calls for extreme action, things like the 25th Amendment, I don't think that's going to prove necessary. We have 13 days remaining of the president's tenure, he will leave office at noon on January 20, and we are now in the process of a peaceful transition of power to the next administration, Joe Biden's presidency, and that process commenced very early this morning when the Congress certifies the results of this election at this point. We will do as we have done with each of the transitions from one president to the next. We will follow that very, very same process here."
Sen. Cruz, at the center of the Electoral College dispute and the resulting protests, is being both blamed and his motives questioned in the hours following the assault on Capitol Hill.
As the joint session of Congress voted alphabetically on each state's electoral votes, Sen. Cruz stood and objected to the votes from Arizona.
CBS19 asked Sen. Cruz if he felt he or other members of Congress who objected to the electors felt any responsibility for the riot at the Capitol.
"Not remotely," Sen. Cruz said. "What I was doing, and what the other senators were doing, is what we were elected to do — debating matters of great importance in the chamber of the United States Senate. I joined with 11 other senators and we proposed to the Senate that Congress should appoint an electoral commission to conduct an emergency 10-day audit of the election results of this last election. That 10-day audit was designed to be completed before January 20, before inauguration."
Following the riots, some Republican members of Congress, like Kelly Loeffler (R-GA), who were originally planning to object the electors decided against it. We asked Sen. Cruz how he felt about their choice.
"And there were several," Sen. Cruz said. "Listen, when this terrorist attack happened, I mean it was a traumatic experience for everyone in the building and in particular across the country. I mean I can tell you about the experience I mean we were on the Senate floor. We had all 100 senators seated at our desk, Vice President Pence was presiding. Senator James Lankford, a Republican from Oklahoma, was speaking. And as he’s speaking, we suddenly saw the Secret Service rush in and escort the vice president out of the room and we're kind of looking around going, "well, what's going on? What's happening?" And then shortly afterwards law enforcement came in, and then Capitol Police came in, and we halted the proceeding. And they barricaded the door, and so we didn't know what was happening when the assault began, we were in the Senate chamber and had no idea what was happening outside. And initially, they barricaded us in the Senate chamber with armed law enforcement officers, protecting the chamber. I assume they did the same in the House. Ultimately, what they ended up doing was removing everyone from the Senate chamber and moving us to a secure third location that was away from that chamber. And then as you know, tragically the terrorists broke into the chamber they did damage, and it was horrific. It was horrific to see. We spent several hours watching the events unfold horrified, horrified to see people breaking into our Capitol to see people really marring the democratic processes that we have. I'll tell you though, I ended last night very, very proud of our country. Because after that terrorist attack, law enforcement went in, Capitol Police, Secret Service, they bravely confronted the terrorists they bravely removed them they secured the Capitol, and then we went back to the Capitol. We went back to the Senate chamber back to the House chamber, we went back and finished doing our jobs. We finished debating the objections that had been raised and debating the proposal that I had put forth to consider an election commission to protect the integrity of our elections, and then we moved forward and certified the results and I was proud to see that the violent mob was not going to stop the United States Congress from doing the job we were elected to do."
There is now a clear divide in the Republican party after losing the presidency and control of both chambers. So where does the GOP go from here?
"Well, the next step is that we will have a peaceful transition of power to the next administration" Sen. Cruz said. "Joe Biden will be the next president, he will be sworn in on January 20. Unfortunately, we're going to have, in addition to a Biden administration, we're going to have a Democratic Senate and a Democratic house."
The Republican party still has a stronghold in Texas, but it seems to have lost its strength nationwide. CBS19 asked Sen Cruz what it would take for the GOP to get that strength and loyalty back.
"Well, right now, our nation is badly divided," said Sen. Cruz. "And then there's sharp disagreements. I hope we see the country coming together more. If you look at the last four years, I think there's an incredible record of success on the policy front, I think we've adopted policies that have been good for the country, that have been good for the state of Texas. We've adopted policies — low taxes, low regulations — that have helped millions of small businesses, that have created millions of jobs, that have helped wages to rise all across the country. All of that has been good and important and extraordinary...I think the American people don't want some of the overheated rhetoric that we've heard from the President, some of the rhetoric that, particularly yesterday, I think really crossed the line and it was irresponsible."